Israeli settlers took over a roof of a Palestinian shop on Al-Shalala Street in the Old City, while under the protection of the Israeli Occupation Force. The settlers have built a water basin and placed various plants on the roof, taking full advantage of a 17 year old military order which prevents shop owners from using their roofs. Shop owner As’ad Abu Munshar said that leakage from the water basin has caused severe damage to the cement walls of the shop. When he first began to hear the heavy hammering coming from the roof, he climbed up and asked the settlers what was going on. One settler responded by pointing his weapon at Abu Munshar and threatening to shoot him if he did not leave immediately.
Israeli settlers living in the Old City are notorious for behaving aggressively towards local Palestinians. The Old City was divided into two areas following the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre in 1994, when an Israeli terrorist shot and killed 29 Muslim Palestinians and injured 125. The area H1 is controlled by Palestinian authority while H2 in controlled by Israel. Around 800 Israeli settlers now live under the protection of the IOF in Hebron, surrounded by more than 30,000 Palestinians. They also built a wall to divide the mosque in two creating a larger synagogue for the Jews and a smaller mosque for Muslims. Although Israel claims to abide by peace agreements in the area, the international community often speak out against the many human right violations breached by Israel. Just last Friday, a group of Israeli settlers forcibly took over a Palestinian family home, in the Old City. Israeli soldiers stood by the house in defence of the settlers.
Nearby Al- Shalala Street lies the deserted Al -Shuhada Street, which was once the economic heart of Hebron. It was the busiest market until the Israeli military shut it down following Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre. When shutting down the street, the Israeli Occupation Force often welded shut the front doors of shops and family homes without warning the owners. Therefore owners would have to climb in through the back door to retrieve their belongings, this often involved climbing through windows and clambering over rooftops. It is now forbidden for Palestinians to set foot on Al- Shuhada. Meanwhile, foreigners and Israelis are permitted to go and come as they please.
For Palestinians in the Old City, life is full of uncertainty living under Israeli occupation. As’ad Abu Munshar has no control over what the settlers have in store for the roof of his shop. He can only hope that Israel will stop illegally expanding their settlements and settlers will stop harassing Palestinians under the support of the Israeli soldiers.