Hebron Clashes: the Sleeping Lion Roars

by Mark Frey

Hebron is known by some as the "sleeping lion," referring to the city's long apparent periods of calm and underlying potential elements for violence. Today the lion woke up and roared as clashes broke out today between Palestinians, settlers and Israeli soldiers late this morning. CPT Hebron was present at some of these events, and some details have been provided by other eye-witnesses.

From our conversations with TIPH personnel (Temporary International Presence Hebron, a group of internatioanl observers), a settler and Palestinian began arguing near the central market close to the settlement of Avraham Avinu. The argument escalated into a fist fight, which was soon joined by other settlers, Palestinians and soldiers. By the time CPT Hebron reached the scene, the incident had subsided and the IDF had declared a curfew.

The larger clash, during which over 1,000 Palestinians threw rocks at armed Israeli soldiers for over three hours, began when Hebron Palestinians demonstrating against Israel's building of an internationally condemned neighborhood in Arab East Jerusalem were tear-gassed by Hebron Israeli settlers when the demonstration was near the settlement area. Soon hundreds of Palestinians were throwing rocks while quickly-deployed Israeli troops fired tear gas, rubber bullets and at one point live ammunition to keep the crowd away. More than 30 Palestinians were treated for tear gas inhalation and an Israeli soldier was hit by a firebomb. The clash subsided after three hours of stone throwing when finally the ongoing intervention of Palestinian police forcibly but nonviolently contained the crowd.

Hebron is quiet tonight, with heightened Palestinian police presence within Palestinian-controlled areas and the Israeli occupied area under curfew. No Palestinians are allowed on the streets within the occupied area. The armed settlers, however, continue to have unrestricted movement within the Israeli-controlled zone.