(From Palestine Report dated 5-7-1996)
The failure of the former Israeli government to partially withdraw from Hebron as scheduled in March, and the new right-wing government's threats to turn Hebron into an "Area B" area, with very limited Palestinian control, has escalated friction and physical confrontation between the Palestinian residents of the city and the Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers in recent weeks.
A group calling itself "The Strike Forces of the Popular Committees for Palestinian National Solidarity" has called for a renewal of the Intifada in Hebron, to hurry Israeli withdrawal from the city. The call was made in two written communiques, the latest of which appeared on the streets of Hebron on 30 June. Like the first leaflet, issued on 21 June, it calls for a renewed Intifada in Hebron until Israeli redeployment is achieved.
The leaflet, which uses the language of leaflets distributed during the 1987-1993 Palestinian popular uprising against the Israeli Occupation, calls for "a renewal of all Intifada activities on a daily basis" in Hebron. It also calls for bringing back the general strikes of the ninth of every month, marking the day the Intifada was sparked in December 1987. The strike day was canceled early this year after all the cities except for Hebron were transferred to the Palestinian Authority.
The head of the political branch of the pro-Fateh Popular Committees in Hebron, whose "strike forces" signed their name to the leaflet, is Azmi Shyoukhi, and is now wanted by Israel, Palestinian sources say.
Israeli soldiers raided the office of Shyoukhi's brother, Hijazi, on 1 July, confiscating the office's computer, disks and some papers. Hijazi, an attorney, runs the Ibrahimi Renaissance Cultural Center, which gives language courses. He was released after several hours' detention.
The communique, labelled as a "Call for cleansing and liberating the Hebron District from Zionist Occupation," called on the "generals of the stone and the molotov cocktail" to reactivate the Intifada in Hebron. "The Zionists continue with their occupation policies, and violate agreements and international legislation on a daily basis, and violate the most basic of Palestinian and human rights ... and seize and plunder Palestinian land, while continuing to occupy the largest of Palestinian cities: Hebron," the leaflet said.
It went on to make the following demands of the city's residents:
"1. Return to carrying out all forms of Intifada resistance on a daily basis, including burning tires, throwing rocks, molotov cocktails, and metal bars at soldiers and settlers, and setting up rock road barriers.
2. Friday, 5 July is to be a day of escalated resistance, in which you will set fire to the earth under the feet of the Zionist occupiers and the settlers.
3. On Tuesday, 3 July, a general strike will be observed, and all shops will be shut and vending carts put away. This day will mark the link between the Intifada that was before the signing of the Oslo agreement, and this new Intifada, the Intifada of emancipation and cleansing, and throwing off Occupation. This day will also be used to express solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons, and protest their continued detention.
4. We stress the need for unity, and the merging of ranks to ensure national unity and strength."@
Settlement activity and the construction of bypass roads continued throughout the occupied Palestinian territories last week, further escalating tensions which were already inflamed.
In Hebron, more settlers arrived during the week to live in the Jewish settlement in the heart of the city. Palestinians in Hebron said that trucks full of furniture arrived late on 30 June, and the settlers unloaded the trucks chanting songs and anti-Arab slogans. This move came two days after Israeli defense minister Yitzhak Mordechai visited Hebron for the purpose of studying and evaluating the security conditions in the town in the context of the redeployment issue.
Earlier in the week, settlers from the Kfar Etzion settlement bloc near Bethlehem set fire to vast areas of lands near Beit Ummar village, outside Hebron.
In Jerusalem, the Israeli press reports that the first step has been taken to establish a new Jewish settlement in the city, "the Eastern Gate project." The plan, if implemented, will lead to the confiscation of vast amounts of land in northern East Jerusalem near Shu'fat refugee camp. Some of the land to be confiscated belongs to individuals, but most is owned by the Islamic Waqf [Trust] and the Arab Electricity company. The settlement project, which is still in the planning stage, will result in the confiscation of 800 acres of Palestinian land. The plan has been submitted to the Jerusalem Development Authority.
Said Al-Amouri, head of the Shu'fat village council, described the Israeli plan as a very threatening initiative aimed at swallowing the rest of Shu'fat's lands. Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation, more than 80 percent of the village's land was confiscated. Al-Amouri warned that the Palestinians in the village are determined to confront this project and stop it.
Also in Jerusalem, there are reports that the Israeli army has recently begun carving out a military 'patrol road' on Palestinian land, to set the northern boundaries of "Greater Jerusalem." The village and surrounding land of Nebi Samuel, settlements Givat Ze'ev, Givon Hahadashah, Har Adar, and Beit Horon are encompassed by the road and included in the Greater Jerusalem area, Israeli sources say.
A few weeks ago, the army began building a road at the entrance of the Palestinian village of Beitunya, west of Ramallah. The road is expected to end at a-Ram checkpoint on the Ramallah-Jerusalem road. An Israeli government source said that the Israeli army intends to set up an electronic fence along the road.
In the Ramallah area, the Land Defense Committee, in conjunction with Al-Ka'abaneh bedouin submitted a joint petition to Ramallah and El-Bireh Governor Mustafa Issa concerning the Israeli orders to evacuate the Al-Ka'abaneh from the lands they have been living on since 1967; these lands belong to Deir Jreer, Ramoun, Al-Tayba, and Kufr Malek villages.
Khader Al-Alem, head of the settlement follow-up committee appointed by the Legislative Council, said that the Israeli authorities had forced the Al-Ka'abaneh out of their lands in Al-'Oja to move them to the lands in the Ramallah area, and now Israeli authorities are again threatening the 500 families with expulsion.
And finally, the Gaza Strip was no exception to the rule of increased settlement activity last week. Settlers from Nitzarim settlement closed down a vital road that connects the Gaza coastal road with Salah a-Din street, extending from Beit Hanoun village (north) to Rafah City (south). Settlers set up a tent to ensure that the Palestinian police could not clear the road.