HEBRON (Ma'an) -- Israeli soldiers removed a stone plaque, which memorialized a Palestinian girl who was shot dead by Israeli forces in 2015 after she allegedly stabbed an Israeli police officer near the illegal Kiryat Arba settlement,
in the Wadi al-Ghurus area of Hebron city in the southern occupied West Bank on Sunday night.
Witnesses said they saw Israeli soldiers smashing the monument, a marble plaque etched with a Quran verse, which stated that the street was renamed after 17-year-old Bayan al-Esseili.
In response to a request for comment, an Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that “as part of ongoing efforts against incitement, security forces in Hebron removed a monument commemorating and celebrating the death of an attacker who stabbed security forces in the area,” adding that “multiple incitement materials” were also seized during the raid.
At the time, the Israeli army justified fatally shooting the teenage girl
-- on a day two other Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli forces in Hebron -- by saying that a border police woman sustained light injuries to her hand from the alleged attack.
The removal of Bayan’s memorial was characteristic of an Israeli policy of dismantling monuments and mourning tents for Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, which Israel claims contributes to promoting future attacks against Israelis -- amid a wider crackdown on Palestinian freedom of expression.
Israeli authorities have claimed that a wave of violence that first erupted in October 2015 was caused largely by “incitement” among Palestinians through social media. Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's nearly 50-year military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon as reasons for the outbreak of violence.
Locals in Hebron have also noted that at the entrance to the illegal Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, just a short distance away from were Bayan’s memorial stood, settlers continue to visit a gravestone and memorial for Baruch Goldstein, an American born Israeli settler who massacred 29 Palestinians inside Hebron’s Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.