Thursday, September 2, 2010

B'Tselem: Soldiers and Police Violently Seal Shops in Hebron without showing order

B'Tselem - 31 August 2010: Soldiers and police violently seal shops in Hebron without showing order:

"31 August 2010: Soldiers and police violently seal shops in Hebron without showing order

On 10 Aug. '10, soldiers sealed three Palestinian-owned shops in Hebron. The action was part of the Israeli authorities’ separation policy in the center of Hebron, which is aimed at protecting settlements erected there. This policy entails physical and legal segregation between the Israeli settlers and the Palestinian majority, as well as extensive and harsh restrictions on movement of Palestinians and systematic refusal to enforce law and order on settlers who attack Palestinians. Also, security forces themselves attack Palestinian residents of the city. This policy has devastated the economy of the city center and led many Palestinians to leave their homes in the area.

Five years ago, ‘Azzam Abu Halef, a 50-year-old resident of Hebron, rented three shops in Area H2, a part of Hebron that is under Israeli control. The shops are located in Bab al-Baladiyah al-Qadeem Street, at the intersection where the Beit Romano checkpoint has been placed to block passage to a-Shuhadah Street, a main artery in the Old City that has been closed to Palestinian movement since 2000. Palestinian residents and Israeli and foreign activists hold weekly demonstrations next to the checkpoint demanding that the Palestinians be allowed to use the road.

According to Abu Halef, on Saturday, 31 July ‘10, as the weekly demonstration ended, an officer from the Civil Administration came into his shop and threatened that if he didn’t take action to stop the demonstrations taking place nearby, the army would close his shops. The officer did not relent even after Abu Halef claimed that he was not involved in the demonstrations and did not know the people who organized them or took part in them.

A week and a half later, around midday on Tuesday, 10 August, another officer from the Civil Administration came to the shop and told Abu Halef that he had to remove the merchandise from his three shops, as soldiers would come in half an hour to close them. The officer did not show Abu Halef a military order instructing the closing of the shops.

About an hour and a half later, soldiers and police officers came to the spot. They violently removed Abu Halef and residents who had joined him in protesting the action. The police arrested three residents and one foreigner, beating them and dragging them along the ground. The soldiers began soldering the doors of the shops together before all the merchandise had been removed. They did not show Abu Halef any military order authorizing them to do so. Security forces showed the residents an order classifying the area of the shops a closed military area and ordered them to leave the area.

The sealing of the shops was accompanied by violence of the security forces. As the sealing was taking place, Abu Halef, who was trying to protect his merchandise, lost consciousness and fell. The soldiers picked him up and set him down close by. At some point, he was treated by an army medic and then taken to the Aliyah hospital in Hebron, where he was treated and discharged that night.

B'Tselem wrote to the Judge Advocate General’s Office, demanding that the Military Police investigate the soldiers’ violent behavior.

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