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Israeli forces 'attack' Palestinian activists near Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron

Feb. 17, 2017 5:26 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 19, 2017 6:36 P.M.)
HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces allegedly attacked Palestinian activists following Friday prayers at the gates of the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron city in the occupied West Bank, as hundreds had gathered to perform prayers as part of a demonstration called for by the international campaign “Dismantle the Ghetto, Take Settlers Out of Hebron.”

An activist from the campaign, Majid Abu Sbeih said that Israeli border guards had attacked several demonstrators, including local Sheikh Ziyad Abu Heleil, activists Anan Daana and Muhammad al-Jibrini, and human rights activists Badie al-Dweik and Imad Abu Shamsiyeh, after they shouted slogans calling for ending the military closure on Shuhada street in Hebron.

The activists did not provide more specifics on how the border guards had attacked them.

Coordinator of the Committee for Defending Hebron Hisham Sharabati said that the national campaign for ending the closure in Hebron was based on international humanitarian law and international resolutions.

Sharabati also pointed out that international resolutions and law considered Israeli settlements in the occupied territory and collective punishment implemented on the Palestinian population as war crimes.

A spokesperson for the Israeli border police was not immediately available for comment.

Shuhada street had once been the center of commercial life in Hebron until the 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre when a US-born Israeli settler from the notoriously aggressive Kiryat Arba settlement entered the mosque and opened fire on worshipers, killing 29 Palestinians.

The massacre erupted into mass protests across the occupied West Bank and Gaza, which the Israeli army reacted to by killing dozens of unarmed protesters and ordering hundreds of Palestinian-owned businesses on Shuhada street to close, eventually sealing the street off completely from Palestinians.

Now, some 23 years later, the street is still closed off by the Israeli military.

Following the massacre, the city was divided between Palestinian and Israeli-controlled zones. The majority of the city was placed under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, while the Old City and surrounding areas were placed under Israeli military control in a sector known as H2.

The entire Hebron district, as well as Hebron’s Old City, where the Ibrahimi Mosque is located, has been a flashpoint for unrest that first erupted in October 2015, with a number of Palestinians being shot dead by Israeli soldiers near the mosque. While Israel alleges many of those were attempting to attack Israelis when they were shot, Palestinians and rights groups have disputed Israel's version of events in a number of cases.
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