Palestinian activists step in after Israel expels Hebron observers

A group of Palestinian activists yesterday launched a campaign to protect Palestinians in Hebron after Israel expelled the city’s UN observer mission.

Tens of Palestinian activists wore blue vests similar to those of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) in the city’s Tel Rumeida neighbourhood and accompanied young students on their way to school, Quds Press reported.

A video showing the activists protecting a number of Palestinian primary school students from an attack by illegal Israeli settlers quickly went viral. The children had been walking near an Israeli military checkpoint installed close to the southern West Bank city.

Mohammad Zagheir, spokesman for the Youth Against Settlement in Hebron, said: “The campaign aims to afford 24 hour protection for the city’s Palestinian inhabitants and mainly its school students.” Zagheir noted that the Palestinians had now become “subject to daily attacks and aggression and might be murdered by the Israeli settlers and the Israeli army in light of the absence of TIPH teams”.

The activists told Quds Press that they would work around the clock to document Israeli violations in order to expose them. Quds Press also reported that scores of settlers – protected by the Israeli army – attacked and insulted the activists when they started their campaign.

Israel expelled TIPH – a UN body which monitors the situation in Hebron – last month after a long campaign by Israeli politicians to have the organisation’s mandate terminated. Onlookers have been critical of the move, including NorwayTurkey and Fatah – the Palestinian faction which dominates the Palestinian Authority (PA).

US: Israel had ‘every right’ to expel Hebron observers