Tensions had already been high in Jerusalem after Israel restricted the entry of Muslim men over 50 into the al-Aqsa Mosque. However, things got particularly worse after 100 Israeli settlers forced their way into a Palestinian home, taking it over with the help of the Israeli police.
The incident took place in the Old City of Hebron in the southern occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Al Jazeera reports that settlers raided Abu Rajab's family home, moving their furniture in as Israeli forces watched on.
Hebron Palestinians have been under attack for a while as Israeli settlers move in, Issa Amro, director of the Hebron-based Youth Against Settlements activist group, said.
“Yesterday, the settlers also attacked a Palestinian child who was walking past, and they threw stones at a family,” Amro said. "This is very common in Hebron.”
Amro explained that while the Rajab family tried to stand up to Israeli settlers and officials, they were terrorized and kept from fighting for their home.
“[The Rajab family has] been attacked by soldiers, police and settlers, and they were very intimidated,” Amro told reporters.
The home involved in the dispute is known among settlers as Beit HaMachpela. According to the settlers who took over on Wednesday, they legally purchased the property. However, Israel's own civil administration said they have yet to show proof of this purchase. Despite the lack of evidence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to let the settlers take Beit HaMachpela.
If this isn't the move of a tyrant, it's hard to know what is.
This isn't the first time settlers tried to take this property.
In 2012, they attempted to take over the building, but the Israeli military evicted them after documents showing that they had legally purchased the property were never produced.
According to Electronic Intifada, the zone of Hebron completely under control of the Israeli military is the home of 850 settlers. While Palestinians are subjected to harsh restrictions in the region, settlers are allowed to roam freely. The situation is particularly dire for Palestinians in the region because the zone under occupation contains Hebron's Ibrahimi mosque, prophet Abraham's burial site.
Unfortunately for Palestinians, these stories of violent takeover by settlers remain under-reported by the mainstream media. As a result, few people understand what's happening in the region. Without this knowledge, it's impossible to get the public to fully understand just what Palestinians experience daily while under Israeli military occupation.
Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/BazRatner