The head of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) said Wednesday that observers from his team intend on leaving the West Bank city after the mission’s building was attacked by Palestinians protesting Danish cartoons seen as offending Islam.
Some 300 Palestinians attacked the TIPH building, throwing stones, smashing windows and trying to set the building on fire in protest over cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad wearing a bomb-like turban first published in Denmark and later reprinted in newspapers across Europe.
Sixty unarmed mission members were in the building at the time, said Gunhild Forselv, a spokeswoman for TIPH, which serves as a buffer between Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the volatile city.
The mission’s head decided to leave the West Bank city despite apologies by Palestinian Authority officials and guarantees to boost police presence around the building.
The mission announced that all its 73 members, outraged by the destruction caused to the building, will be leaving Hebron in the coming few hours.
“We felt secure until today, but what happened has forced us to change our arrangements. Out of concern for the lives of the mission’s members we are obliged to leave the city,” he said.
He noted, however, that mission members will return to the city when the situation is more favorable.