The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Updates from al Khalil/Hebron

CPT Palestine, October 19, 2023

Since 7 October, our lives have been profoundly disrupted—our daily routines upended, and our sense of safety shattered. We find ourselves constantly glued to the news, desperately searching for any glimmer of hope amidst the turmoil. Due to Meta’s collaboration with our adversaries in monitoring, censoring, and limiting Palestinian content, we are compelled to resort to alternative platforms like Telegram to stay informed about the situation in Gaza.

In the initial days, our vibrant city of al Khalil/Hebron metamorphosed into a desolate ghost town. Shops closed their doors, children remained concealed in their homes, and even the sun seemed reluctant to rise. Soldiers were a ubiquitous presence, seemingly wielding unrestrained power, cultivating an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty. For almost 75 years, Palestinians have endured the traumas of ethnic cleansing, genocide, and dehumanization, as displayed by the recent comments from the Israeli Defense Minister. Our rights have been systematically eroded, our homes demolished, and our land usurped by colonial settlers. To gain insight into the dehumanizing experiences of detained CPT members, please read their reflections here.

As time passed, restrictions continued to tighten throughout the West Bank. The Israeli occupation forces (IOF) closed the entrance to Hebron and assumed control over the city, despite, or perhaps because of, its pivotal role in contributing to the Palestinian economy. Reports about the treatment of Palestinians by Israeli soldiers have grown increasingly alarming, making it even more challenging for us to leave our homes.

Currently, some schools are operating with a mix of online and in-person classes. In the H2 area near the Ibrahimi Mosque, other schools have transitioned to online classes due to the intensifying crisis and concerns for the safety of students. Even in normal times, safety was a concern, but the situation has become even riskier. In the first two days of the war, the Ibrahimi Mosque was closed to the public.

Movement restrictions have existed for generations, but they have become more challenging to navigate in the current context, depending on where you live. For instance, CPT local members reside in different areas; one of them lives in Area C, very close to the Kiryat Arba settlements. He has remained in his home to protect it in case settlers attack. Additionally, soldiers have blocked the main route to his house, preventing any Palestinians from using it. Instead, they must traverse hilly terrain to reach a nearby village to shop for food and continue resisting and defending their homes.


Meanwhile, Palestinians living in restricted areas, like Tel-Rumeideh near the Ibrahimi Mosque, face restrictions that limit their movements:

To exit the Old City, the following times and checkpoints apply:
08:30 – 09:00 for the Jaber neighborhood via the al Salaymeh checkpoint.
08:00 – 08:30 for the area near Ibrahimi School via the Abu Al-Rish checkpoint.
07:30 – 8:00 for Tel-Rumeideh and the surrounding areas via Tamar checkpoint.

To enter your neighbourhood, the schedule is as follows:
18:00 – 19:00 via al Salaymeh and Abu Al-Rish checkpoints, once every two days: Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and then Saturday, Monday, Wednesday, Friday.

We are left to wonder if these restrictions apply to settlers as well.

The skies have grown increasingly active, with constant presence of helicopters, airplanes, and other unidentified noises overhead. Despite the continuous sounds, it remains difficult to discern their origin. The evening skies have become particularly congested.

Furthermore, peaceful demonstrations have become a recurring expression of solidarity in the West Bank with the people of Gaza. On Friday, 13 October in Hebron, thousands of individuals participated in a demonstration against the apartheid policies of Israel and their ongoing genocide against our people in Gaza. Demonstrations occurred again on Saturday, 14 October and demonstrations have continued this week following the atrocity at the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza. 

Inside the Old City of Hebron, families continue to experience the daily trauma of living in close proximity to military outposts that protect the illegal settlements in the town. Yesterday, a family shared with us the anxiety of their six-year-old boy, who asks constantly, “Why?” He questions and struggles to understand, as we all do, why Gaza is being bombed, families, homes, schools and hospitals decimated. He wonders if his house will be destroyed as so many homes are. He asks anxiously before he goes to sleep, “Will my house be bombed tonight?”

Business owners and community leaders are angered by the West’s reaction to the genocide in Gaza. They ask how the USA, the so-called most powerful nation on earth, could brush aside their 70 plus years of struggle and continue to pour money and support to the Israeli military, the fourth most powerful army in the world, against an unarmed civilian population.

In the villages around Hebron, settler violence has increased. Encouraged by the whole-hearted support of Western powers for the genocide in Gaza, settler attacks, under the  protection of the Israeli army, have exploded in intensity and frequency throughout the West Bank. 

On Friday, 13 October, the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, documented the killing of a Palestinian in At-Tuwani, a village in the Masafer Yatta area south of Hebron. He is in critical condition after a settler, accompanied by an Israeli soldier, invaded the community on Friday and shot him at point-blank range. 

On Monday, 16 October, the residents of Al-Qanub, a small village north of Hebron comprising eight families, faced the burning of their village. It is reported that settler violence led to the expulsion of every resident of the village, located near the settlements of Ma’ale Amos and Asfar. Settlers burned three houses with all their belongings inside.

On Tuesday 17 October, in Simri, southern Hebron, settlers violently attacked residents of two tiny villages, and settlers bulldozed two vacant houses whose residents had previously been forced to leave due to settler violence.

On the same day in the town of Halhoul, north of Hebron, the soldiers killed a 17-year-old boy, Mohammad Nidal Mohammad Milhem, after shooting him with live fire in the abdomen, causing extensive internal organ damage and bleeding. Mohammad was shot after dozens of soldiers invaded the Industrial School in Halhoul, where dozens of Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip have been staying after the Israeli soldiers detained them in occupied Jerusalem and other parts of the country. The army caused damage to the school and interrogated the workers before abducting 50 of them, in addition to 26 Palestinians from several parts of the governorate. The attacks led to protests in several parts of Halhoul before the soldiers fired many live rounds, wounding three Palestinians, including Mohammad. Mohammad’s death is the 61st Palestinian killed by the Israeli army and settlers in the West Bank since 7 October.

On 18 October, after the inexcusable bombing of the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza the streets of Hebron filled with demonstrators in support of the people of Gaza. Snipers dominated the buildings above, injuring several people. 

Many kidnappings of Palestinians under the guise of arrests and detentions have occurred here since 7 October. On Monday night and early this Tuesday, at least 70 Palestinians from the West Bank were arrested by the Israeli occupation forces, including two women from Jerusalem, journalists, and former detainees as reported by the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society. The Israeli forces have taken 540 prisoners since 7 October, and made more than 6,000 arrests since the beginning of this year.

Hundreds of workers working inside the occupied Palestinian territories from the Gaza Strip were detained for days at checkpoints before being sent to the West Bank away from their families. Most of them were cut off from contact with their families in Gaza. On Wednesday night, dozens of the Gazan workers were arrested, among those who were deported to Hebron, Al-Dahrieh, and Yatta.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society reported that since 7 October, the Israeli occupation forces have escalated unprecedented acts of torture and systematic crimes against detainees and their families, threatening, intimidating, and assaulting prisoners and their families and destroying and vandalizing homes of detainees. The occupation authorities have imposed measures making it extremely difficult for legal teams and lawyers to monitor detainees since 7 October, particularly in acquiring information about newly detained individuals and their locations and visitation rights.

The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society stated that the Israeli prison administration is imposing escalating retaliatory measures on a daily basis against women prisoners as part of continuous collective punishment. Besides the general abuses on basic elements of prisoners’ lives like restrictions to water, food, healthcare, and electricity, the prison authorities have resorted to physically assaulting prisoners during the ongoing raids. Furthermore, one of the most dangerous current measures affecting prisoners’ lives is the denial of medical care, meaning that the prison administration has effectively ceased medical treatment for prisoners. There are serious concerns about the potential spread of diseases, as prison authorities refuse to remove waste from prisoners’ cells while reducing the water supply and shutting it off for extended periods in some prisons, like Negev, where water is provided to prisoners for only 50 minutes a day. The prison administration has confiscated prisoners’ clothing in some prisons, leaving each prisoner with only one set. Most prisoners in various prisons are not allowed to use designated showers.

These arrest campaigns represent a central and systematic policy employed by the occupation forces to undermine any rising confrontational situation and serve as a primary tool for collective punishment, targeting civilians. The Palestinian Prisoners’ Society reiterated its calls to all relevant parties, especially the International Committee of the Red Cross, to put an end to these crimes.

Given this never-ending and violent suppression of the rights of the Palestinian people, the majority of Palestinian people are hanging on by a thread. How much more physical and psychological trauma can they endure? The international community must be more vocal in calling for a swift end to the genocide and the apartheid system to prevent further suffering and abuse.


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