SAMARA: Hebron – Revolting against the PNA and the Occupation 28Mar13 March 28, 2013


by  Malik Samara    -    Al Akhbar English     -    21 March 2013

Ramallah – On 7 April 2013, Mahmoud al-Titi was supposed to stand trial before a Palestinian court. Yet his trial date, which had been repeatedly delayed since 2010, was postponed indefinitely. One month before, the 25-year-old died after being shot in the head with expanding “dumdum” bullets at the Fawwar refugee camp in Hebron.

Hebron was devastated by the news of Titi’s killing. He’s the second martyr from the city in a span of two weeks; Arafat Jaradat, also from Hebron, was reportedly tortured to death in Israeli custody. Only the Palestinian security services seem to have overcome his death quickly as they undertook a massive arrest campaign in Hebron, targeting former prisoners like Titi.

The city of Hebron, which is surrounded by settlements and settler bypass roads, is subject to a special security protocol dubbed the “Hebron Redeployment Protocol.” The protocol was signed by the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) and Israel in 1997, and divided the city into three zones: Area A, which is under PNA security and administrative control; Area B, which is under PNA administrative and Israeli security control; and Area C, which is under full Israeli control.

It should be noted that the presence of security forces in Area A, which is under full PNA control, is limited mainly to checkpoints designed to prevent the entry of militants or demonstrators.

Hebron witnesses skirmishes on a near daily basis, particularly in areas controlled by the Israeli security forces, like the old city of Hebron. In fact, the old city was once considered the heart of Hebron, that is, before the occupation shut down the main Shuhada Street, which was a popular tourist destination and business hub. Currently, Shuhada Street is used exclusively by Israeli settlers.

Though the settlers number no more than 500, they have become a daily source of annoyance for the 40,000 Palestinian residents. In parallel with a silent transfer of the native Arab population, efforts are underway to strengthen the Jewish presence in the city.

Martyrs of Hebron

In the PNA-controlled Area A, Palestinian security services often prevent demonstrations from reaching flashpoints. Two weeks ago, cameras caught a Palestinian security officer slapping a protester. Many saw the incident as another example of the security services’ obsession with “maintaining order and not being drawn into chaos.” The logic is that the occupation wants this type of chaos to break out.

Meanwhile, along the southern foothills of Mount Hebron in Area C, Israel is pursuing a systematic expulsion of the Bedouin population. It’s also where the occupation army trains for the next “strategic war,” claiming that its terrain is similar to South Lebanon.

Such is the situation in Hebron, where a new intifada seems to be brewing. Beleaguered by everyday concerns, the city is more likely to see clashes erupt.

The protest movement in Hebron is spontaneous. Mohammed Qnita, who is active in Palestinian prisoner solidarity demonstrations, said, “We tried to reach out to several factions, but we did not receive any response.” The late Titi had often complained about the same thing. Yet when he was killed, every faction sought to claim him as its own.

Like Titi, every victim from Hebron has a painful story. When crossing a military checkpoint to buy a cake for his 17th birthday, Mohammed Salaymeh was shot by a female occupation soldier with six rounds at point blank. He had been carrying a toy gun.

All the victims are youths hailing from Hebron and its environs. Now, at any moment, this city may explode, along with its refugee camps, adjoining villages, and old and modern quarters alike.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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