On 26 March 2014, the Ambassador of Denmark to Israel, Mr. Jesper Vahr, visited TIPH and took a tour of downtown Hebron to receive a first-hand briefing about current developments on the ground.
Ambassador Vahr was first welcomed at TIPH Headquarters and briefed by Head of Mission Christine Fossen on the current situation in Hebron, as well as on the Mission’s work and mandate. Danish contingent Senior Representative and Deputy Head of Operation Bjarne Elbaekgaard Kristensen, together with members of his contingent also contributed to make this visit a success.
Several current issues of concern were brought to the attention of Ambassador Vahr. Among them, the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision of 11 March 2014 on a case opposing Faiz Rajbi and Abed Elkader Shawar, two Palestinian residents of Hebron, and Tal Construction Karnei Shomron Investments. The outcome of this long-standing court case, ruled in favour of the latter party to the dispute, was considered particularly important given the strategic position of the contested house. The building is indeed located in the middle of a Palestinian neighbourhood, between the Kiryat Arba and the downtown settlements, and between the Givat Ha’avot settlement and the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpela. In the neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida, the on-going excavations initiated in January of this year, which are attracting increasing local and international attention, were also mentioned.
The Ambassador then took a tour of downtown Hebron, which allowed him to directly observe some of the latest developments and trends in the city, as well as to be informed of the Mission’s concrete work in the area. In particular, he visited some of the neighbourhoods affected by construction work or structural alterations. The mission had been systematically observing and reporting on such activities given that, when allegedly carried out in contravention to International Law, they fall within the mandate entrusted to TIPH. Freedom of movement of both the affected population and TIPH observers was also among the concrete issues raised during the tour.