VIDEO - It isn't easy to be a Palestinian living in Hebron. "Dozens of Palestinian families in Hebron are living in cages because of harassment from settlers," Abed al-Hadi Hankesh, an engineer working in the Hebron municipality, said to Ynet.
ankesh is also a member of the Palestinian Committee for Land Defense in the city.
Hankesh made these statements following Ynet's publication
of a video showing a heated argument between a Jewish settler woman and the Abu Aisha family, who live in a 'cage,' and suffer daily harassment from their settler neighbors, and need special authorization from them to receive guests.
The video was filmed by a member of the Abu Aisha family member and was sent to Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem.
According to Hankesh, most of the cages were built at the behest of an IDF command.
"The Israeli army, instead of fulfilling its role of protecting the Palestinian citizens, asked them to build these cages, claiming that this is the only way they would be protected from the settlers and their harassment. But this is part of a plan meant to increase the sense of pressure and suffocation of the Palestinians in Hebron, and to convince them to leave their homes and their lands," he stated.
Hankesh recounted that in addition to the Aisha family, another ten Palestinian families are forced to pass through special gates in order to get to their houses, which are located in the Jewish residential area.
"Even though the army knows every one of the Palestinians who live in the area, they are held up, sometimes for long hours, at the gate in order to enter their homes. This is not to speak of access for neighbors, friends, or family members. It isn’t reasonable, it isn't legal, and it isn't humane," reported Hankesh.
There are dozens other Palestinian families who live in cages in other parts of the city.
Arab residents of Hebron grapple with other difficulties as well. "The Civil Administration issues dozens of work suspension and destruction injunctions every year to the Palestinians in Hebron," said Hankesh.
"It is still unclear how they don't allow the Palestinians to build on their lands, but they allow the settler who arrives from across the sea to build undisturbed and to expand onto Palestinian lands. What is this, if not racism? Everything is part of the effort to push Palestinians to leave this place," he continued.
Another problem that the Palestinian residents of Hebron encounter is closed streets. Hankesh said that during the holidays, residents turn to the Civil Administration, and sometimes even the Israeli judicial system, in order to get the IDF to open blocked roads to Palestinian traffic.
"In reality, the army never obeys the court decision, always falsely claiming the security of the Jewish residents. Sometimes, when foreign visitors arrive in the region, the army opens the street at its own behest, in order to give them the sense that the city is free and that Palestinians can move about freely. But the moment the guests leave, the road is again closed to Palestinian traffic," said Hankesh.
The number of complains filed by Palestinians says a lot about the friction between Jews and Arabs.
Hankesh: "Since 2000, the Palestinians filed on average 592 complaints with the army or the police per year against the settlers, 372 of which are in reference to Hebron. But the complaints filed by Palestinians aren't taken care of. The most prominent complaints are those on harassment by the settlers, swears, throwing stones, punches, throwing diapers and things of this sort. In the face of this, we have nothing left to do but encourage the residents and strengthen their will to stay in Hebron."