by Khalil Marwan (Occupied Arab World, Crescent International Vol. 27, No. 13, Jumada' al-Ula', 1419)
The Zionist occupation forces have imposed a strict curfew on the southern part of the West Bank town of Hebron. The complete blockade of the city is part of the Zionists’ collective punishment to inflict suffering on 400,000 Palestinian residents while the gun-toting Zionist settlers prowl the streets freely.
The suffering of the Palestinians takes numerous forms. On August 26, Fadwa Abdul Salam al-Alam was prevented from crossing the Israeli checkpoint to go to a hospital to deliver her baby. Her baby girl died soon after delivery when the mother was forced to walk 60 kilometres through a mountain pass to reach the hospital. On August 23, three-month old Qusay Hanni Tamimi died when refused permission to cross a checkpoint to reach a hospital.
Zionist vandalism takes other forms as well. Units from the Israeli forces have been firing at water tanks on the roofs to worsen the acute water shortage they have created. They are also preventing vehicles with water tanks from reaching a number of sections of the city. Israeli soldiers have also shot at residents who try to get water across the checkpoints or the roofs of houses.
The blockade has caused other problems. Hospitals in the city suffer from a lack of medicines and water and are working with only 50 percent of their usual workforce. The zionists have prevented free movement of ambulances and demand they obtain special permits should the need arise to transfer emergency cases. These are not usually forthcoming.
Israeli forces have also impeded garbage collectors from carrying out their duties, thus adding to the already deteriorating environmental and health situation in the city. Neighbourhoods in the Old City have requested humanitarian organisations to send emergency calls for humanitarian, medical and environmental aid.
Zionists settlers, meanwhile, have continued attacks on Palestinian families who live nearby the illegal settlements, without hindrance and with impunity. Israeli forces are busy raiding houses; numerous people have been assaulted and have reported damage to their property. A number of Palestinian shops have been totally destroyed as have 24 stands used by peddlers in the public market.
In the four days from August 24, around 29 cars were attacked and destroyed. Nine citizens were injured in addition to the 14 wounded earlier. Israeli forces have deployed 20 additional checkpoints on rooftops in the Old City and four schools have been placed under curfew in the southern part of Hebron in the Yanoon, Joha and Ashuhada neighbourhoods.
Palestinian sources estimate the financial losses of the closure and curfew at $21 million. Particularly affected has been the industrial zone, which has incurred losses in production, marketing and labour fees.
The killing of a terrorist settler Rabbi a week earlier appears to have been used to undertake settlement expansion under the cover of military operations against Palestinians in Hebron. Settlers have taken over land that belongs to the Abu Eisha, Abu Haikal, and Al Jibali families in the adjacent Rumedia neighbourhood. The land is expected to be used to expand colonies in the settlement of Ramat Yashai. The Israeli government has allocated $8 million to replace the caravans with permanent houses.
Also, settlers have already started their expansion activities in the settlement of Abraham Avino, located in the centre of Hebron. In this area, Israeli settlers set the house of Nidal Al Awewi alight. His wife and children suffered injuries from the fumes, but were unable to attend hospital as settlers attacked the ambulance driver who had arrived to assist them.
Muslimedia: September 1-15, 1998