Israeli Military Prohibits Male Palestinian Youths From Hebron's Jewish Settlement

Directive doesn't apply to area's residents, IDF says; Palestinians call for mass demonstration and prayers – including in Cave of the Patriarchs – in protest of 'Israel's policies of execution.'

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An Israeli border policeman orders Palestinians to move away from a checkpoint, Hebron, March 15, 2015.
An Israeli border policeman orders Palestinians to move away from a checkpoint, Hebron, March 15, 2015.Credit: Reuters

Following a slew of terror attacks in Hebron, the regional brigade commander on Thursday has prohibited male Palestinians between the ages of 15 and 25 from passing through the checkpoints into the Jewish settlement there, with the exception of local residents and students at the nearby school, who will be diverted to a single checkpoint.

Until now, individuals who do not live in the area who wished to go through the checkpoints were subject to full security checks, but now they will not be allowed into the settlement area at all. In addition, all stores in the area will be closed until further notice. According to one army source, the large number of attacks, 14 stabbings or attempted stabbings that ended in the attacker being killed, necessitates a response from the troops on the ground. On Thursday morning, a soldier was lightly wounded by a stabber near the city, and shortly after another attempted stabbing was thwarted. Both attackers were shot and killed by the soldiers.

“In the wake of recent terror attacks in the city of Hebron, it was decided this morning to take steps to prevent harm to civilians. The IDF will continue to ensure a normal daily life as much as possible for all residents of the area, while taking the necessary steps to ensure security in light of the situation. Guidelines are constantly updated in accordance to the situation assessment and with challenges in the sector,” said the IDF Spokesperson’s unit in response to inquiry.

The Palestinians have also marked Hebron as “the capital for Palestinian rage.” Various factions including Hamas, Fatah and Islamic Jihad have called for processions and protests on Friday, to be called “Friday of Hebron martyrs.” Fatah’s Hebron district even called for a mass prayer event at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Cave of the Patriarchs, in opposition to “Israel’s policies of execution,” as they’ve called it. On Thursday evening, notices went up in East Jerusalem as well, calling for protests in the city and urging for continuing the struggle against the occupation and against changing the status quo on the Temple Mount.

Families demand attackers' bodies

The two Palestinian youths who allegedly carried out stabbing attacks on Thursday in the Hebron area and were shot to death have been identified as Aslam Rafik Abido, 23, and Mahdi Mohammed Al-Muktaseb, also 23. Palestinians claim that in Al-Muktaseb’s case, he had no intent to stab anyone, but soldiers shot him based on suspicion alone. Eye witnesses claim they saw soldiers plant a knife near his corpse.

On Thursday, the families of several Palestinians shot after carrying out attacks held a press conference in Ramallah, where they asked the Palestinian leadership and the international community to intervene in order to return the bodies of their relatives. According to data from the families, Israel is currently holding the bodies of 16 terrorists. Mohamed Aiiyan, father of Baha Aliyan, who carried out an attack on a bus in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv neighborhood two weeks ago, said during the press conference that receiving his son’s body is a “basic human right,” and that the families will not “calm down nor quiet until the bodies are returned and buried.”

On Thursday evening a 60-year-old woman was lightly wounded after stones were thrown at her car on Route 431 near Ramle Junction in central Israel. Her eight-month-old granddaughter was with her in the vehicle, and apparently was not harmed. Earlier on Thursday shots were fired at IDF soldiers guarding a bus stop near the Ofra settlement. There were no casualties. The soldiers returned fire, and the IDF is searching for the attackers. In the East Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur, a pipe bomb was thrown at police officers. Two bystanders were treated for shock, but no additional casualties were reported.

In Hebron, Ramallah and Bethlehem reports surfaced on Thursday of dozens of Palestinians wounded by live fire or rubber bullets, as well as tear gas inhalation following clashes that broke out with Israeli forces. The Palestinian Health Ministry announced that the Palestinian death toll since the recent escalation began sits at 66, with 49 dead in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and 17 dead in Gaza. According to the ministry, the number of wounded sits at 2,000, with 900 wounded from live fire, roughly 880 from rubber bullets, 206 from physical blows, and 14 from burns. The ministry also stated that over 5,000 people have suffered tear gas inhalation.

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