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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the expulsion of Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) from Hebron, who works both with Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He stated, “ we will not allow the continuation of an international force that acts against us”. This has been followed by the World Council of Churches (WCC) releasing a statement that they will be indefinitely withdrawing volunteers with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme Palestine Israel (EAPPI) from the city, citing security concerns due to the level of settler harassment internationals have been subjected to by settlers under the eye of the Israeli Occupying Forces.
Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was established in 1994 as a result of the Oslo Accords - also the year of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre where Brooklyn born Israeli setter Baruch Goldstein opened fire in the Ibrahimi mosque killing 29 Palestinians in worship and injuring over 100 - and is composed of monitors from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, and Turkey.
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme Palestine Israel (EAPPI) started having a presence in the city in 2002. Both TIPH and EAPPI have had an impact on reducing the number of cases of harassment and violence against the Palestinian community and both work with Youth Against Settlements and other Palestinian and Israeli peace and human rights groups.
The expulsion of TIPH and withdrawal of EAPPI risks a severe increase in danger to the Palestinian community in Hebron. Incidents of settler violence in Hebron are already at extremely high levels and coming new settlement construction in the area is likely to make this even worse.
Add your name to our letter below calling upon the UN and EU to condemn the expulsion of TIPH and use all methods at their disposal to see that international human rights monitors, activists, and volunteers are able to operate safely in Hebron.
Dear United Nations and European Union,
Please speak out in opposition and pass a resolution condemning Israel's expulsion of Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH). You must use all methods at your disposal to see that international human rights monitors, activists, and volunteers are able to operate safely in Hebron.
The expulsion of TIPH and voluntary withdrawal of Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme Palestine Israel (EAPPI) from Hebron, due to safety concerns, will further exacerbate the already dangerous and volatile situation Palestinians live under.
The city of Hebron has long been known as a site of particular friction in the occupied Palestinian territories due to it being one of only two cities (Hebron and East Jerusalem) in the West Bank where settlements exist in the midst of the Palestinian community. Additionally, it is an area of significant religious interest to all three Abrahamic faiths due to the location of the ‘Tomb of the Patriarchs’.
As a consequence of the Ibrahimi mosque massacre in 1994, and the related protests that took place following the event, the Israeli military took the opportunity to close to Palestinians larger and larger areas of the old city, severely restricting Palestinian movement and significantly impacting Palestinian livelihoods; Palestinian families in Hebron's old city are unable to live with any kind of normality. The number of illegal settlers moving into Hebron has been increasing, more Palestinian homes are being taken over, and settler harassment and violence against Hebron Palestinians is on the rise. This has been enabled by the Israeli military stationed there, who at best do not intervene, and at worst actively support the violence and harassment.
At the end of 2018 TIPH released a statement covering 2 decades of their monitoring in the city. They cited over 40,000 documented incidents of human rights violations against Palestinians. the report revealed that Israel is in regular and severe breach of a number of both international and internal laws.
From Hebron based Palestinian activist group Youth Against Settlements:
“TIPH is important in providing protection for Palestinian families. We face enormous violence from the settlers but the Israeli soldiers stationed here do nothing to protect us. TIPH makes an commendable effort and helps the situation on the ground. They help children get to school, families get to and from work and the market. They give our community a degree of safety. we have every reason to believe the expulsion of TIPH's will result in even greater settler violence against us.”
Both TIPH and EAPPI have been proven to have an impact in reducing the number of cases of harassment and violence against the Palestinian community and work with Palestinian peace and human rights groups.
In January 2019 Prime Minister Netanyahu announced TIPH's contract would not be renewed. EAPPI, fearing for the safety of its volunteers followed shortly afterwards with an announcement that they will no longer be able to continue to have a presence in Hebron in the current climate. This, along with the first new settlement construction in Hebron in decades, will almost surely result in an even sharper uptick in violence and human rights abuses against Palestinians.
The international community is obligated under International Humanitarian Law to intervene when there is clear evidence of human rights violations taking place. Making International Humanitarian Law irrelevant though a lack of intervention in respect of Israel’s crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people sets a dangerous precedent for the global community.
It is necessary for you to immediately speak out and condemn Israel's expulsion of TIPH. You must use all methods at your disposal to see that international human rights monitors, volunteers, and activists in Hebron are able to operate safely (hopefully enabling EAPPI to resume operations in Hebron), and send additional international human rights observers from the UN and from EU countries to Hebron.