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Separation policy in Hebron: Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) renews segregation on main street; wide part – Jews only, narrow, rough side passage – for Palestinians.
In January 2015, B’Tselem learned that the IOF had renewed segregation on the main street of the neighborhood of a-Salaimeh, Hebron, which leads to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. The IOF does not allow Palestinians to use the main, paved, part of the street and directs them to use a narrow, unpaved and rough pedestrian passageway.
It was discontinued as a result of a short video published by B’Tselem, which showed Border Police officers explaining that the main part of the street was for Jews only.
Watch video here.
Nabilah al-Ja’bri, 45, mother of ten, resident of the al-Ja’bri neighborhood, Hebron, describes how the ban on passing through the main part of the street makes her feel:
“About a month ago, Border Police officers once more started blocking my access to the paved road. When I asked why, one of the policemen told me that there were new directives which ban Palestinians from using the paved part of the street and dictate that we have to walk on the other side of the fence. Since then, my kids and I have been using the side road every day. Only the settlers are allowed to use the main road. I no longer argue with the policemen, and neither do the rest of the residents in the neighborhood. When we get to the checkpoint, we just head right over to the side road.
I feel humiliated when I walk along the dirt path behind the fence and see the settlers using the main part of the street, with a chain-link fence – whose existence is completely unjustified –separating us from them.”
The main street in the neighborhood of a-Salaimeh leads, among other things, to Tomb of the Patriarch. It is about 70 meters long and has a checkpoint at either end: the Bakery Checkpoint at the northern end of the road and the Bench Checkpoint at its southern end. Until this renewed ban, Israeli occupation forces permitted Palestinian pedestrians and cyclists on the street. To transport heavy loads, Palestinians had to use horse-drawn wagons or pushcarts. Israelis, settlers and otherwise, are permitted to walk and drive along the street.
Since the 1994 massacre of Muslim worshipers in the Tomb of the Patriarchs by Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein, the Israeli occupation has adopted an official policy of separating Jews and Muslims in the city of Hebron. The policy is implemented primarily through severe restrictions on Palestinian travel and movement in downtown Hebron, the site of most Israeli settlements and outposts. Given the fact the settlements are unlawful in themselves, these restrictions merely add insult to injury, with a sweeping and disproportionate violation of the right to freedom of movement of an entire population being imposed in order to perpetuate an illegal policy.
Some of the main roads in the area are completely off limits to Palestinians, and many roads bar any and all Palestinian vehicles. Israel’s strict restrictions have made the lives of Palestinians in downtown Hebron intolerable, forcing many to leave their homes and jobs.
Israel must immediately lift all travel and access restrictions imposed on Hebron residents.