Settler violence after evacuation of Occupied House

Under heavy teargas and stun grenade fire the Israeli Army and Police evicted the settlers from the Occupied House in al-Ras/Patriarchs’ Hill in Hebron on Thursday 4 December. The evacuation started around two o’clock in the afternoon and was over after one hour. -We welcome this step taken by the Israeli authorities. The operation was handled efficiently by the army and police and the resistance from the settlers inside seems to have been limited, says TIPH Head of Mission, Brigadier General Roy C. Grottheim.

Under heavy teargas and stun grenade fire the Israeli Army and Police evicted the settlers from the Occupied House in al-Ras/Patriarchs’ Hill in Hebron on Thursday 4 December.

The evacuation started around two o’clock in the afternoon and was over after one hour.

-We welcome this step taken by the Israeli authorities. The operation was handled efficiently by the army and police and the resistance from the settlers inside seems to have been limited, says TIPH Head of Mission, Brigadier General Roy C. Grottheim.

However, TIPH registered a wave of utterly worrying events following the eviction.

Outside the Occupied house two Palestinians were shot and taken to hospital by an Israeli Army ambulance.

– The Israeli Army did obviously not foresee the strength and immensity of the revenge, adds Roy C. Grottheim.

Already during the operation settlers coming from a crowd gathered on the road outside the Occupied House and from the nearby Kiryat Arba settlement rushed into the valley separating Kiryat Arba and the Occupied House. They set fire to Palestinian homes, burnt fruit and olive trees, stoned Palestinian houses and heavily damaged Palestinian property.

An Israeli soldier was injured by stones thrown by settlers.

Live fire was reported from the settlement directed to the Occupied House. An adjacent mosque was hit.

Shooting also took place within the Kiryat Arba settlement and in Jabel Jawhar, a Palestinian living quarter in the vicinity.

The clashes soon spread to the area around the other settlements in downtown Hebron.

To be able to closely follow the situation on the ground and investigate reported incidents TIPH sent out all available personnel to patrol the city during the night.

– We want to support the hard hit Hebronites. We have to be out in streets when they need us, Roy C. Grottheim says.

After 11 o’clock pm the situation calmed down and became relatively quiet.

-Hopefully it will stay this way. If the settler attacks continue and the Palestinians start reacting violently the situation quickly could get out of hand, Head of Mission says.

The house at al Ras/Patriarch’s Hill was taken over by settlers 19 March 2007. Ever since TIPH has witnessed increased violence and a large number of harassments and cases of trespassing in the vicinity of the house.

After the Israeli High Court of Justice’ order to evacuate the Occupied House, issued 16 November, settlers from all over the West bank have gathered in Hebron to help resist the evacuation, this leading to an even higher tension and further acts of violence.