HEBRON (Ma’an) -- Israeli forces attempted to obstruct a volunteering event held by local organization Youth Against Settlements (YAS) in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank on Friday. Coordinator of YAS Issa Amro said that the group had organized a volunteering day to restore an old Palestinian factory, which was closed by Israeli forces during the Second Intifada, in order to transform it into a cinema. He added that the cinema would be used to introduce Palestinian children to Palestinian history and heritage in Hebron, as well as to spread awareness of issues relating to the near 50-year Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territory. Amro said that the activists were able to reach the closed factory despite obstacles imposed by Israeli forces and settlements, including checkpoints and closures in the area.
YAS has been able to restore several buildings and protect them from Israeli forces. For instance, the group was able to restore a building once occupied by Israeli forces as a military post and turn it into a Palestinian social center. Amro has been targeted by Israeli forces due to his activism, including being tried in an Israeli military court for several charges that Amnesty International called “baseless” last month when the organization accused Israel of targeting Amro for his work as a "human rights defender."
The area of Tel Rumeida has long been a flashpoint for tensions between Palestinians and Israeli settlers and military, as it is located near illegal Israeli settlements whose residents are notoriously aggressive toward Palestinians.
Tel Rumeida is located within the area of the city designated as H2, an area taking over the bulk of Hebron's Old City that is under full Israeli military control, and the site of five illegal Israeli settlements which continually expand into surrounding Palestinian neighborhoods.
Israeli authorities declared the area of Tel Rumeida and other parts of the Old City as a "closed military zone" for several months in November 2015 amid an outbreak of violence that has left 254 Palestinians killed since Oct. 2015.
The Israeli-controlled H2 area is home to 30,000 Palestinians and around 800 Israeli settlers who live under the protection of Israeli forces.