Christian Peacemaker teams (CPT) in AL-Khalil/Hebron, on the West Bank zone adjoining Israel, reported that a group of Israeli solders entered a boy's school on December 15. Later on the same day, some soldiers went into an apartment block pounding on doors, telling people they needed to do so for 'practice'. The army has also prevented renovation work from taking place on some shops in Hebron Old City, according to CPT.
The principal of the Ibrahimi School called the CPT around 8.30am, saying that Israeli soldiers had entered the school grounds. By the time the Christian Peacemakers arrived, the soldiers had left. Members of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), International Solidarity Movement (ISM), Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) and the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) also arrived around the same time.
Translating for the principal, the HRC representative said that the boys had been at a school assembly celebrating the end of semester before exams when the soldiers arrived, accusing the boys of throwing a handful of plastic chips painted in a metallic color from the schoolyard.
As the people gathered took pictures of the chips, the principal received word that an officer in the paratroopers' brigade currently occupying the H-2 area of Hebron wished to speak to him. The officer told the principal that rather than throwing the plastic chips from the schoolyard, the boys had thrown a small piece of glass from a beer bottle at the soldiers near the Qitoun checkpoint. The officer told the principal to report to Israeli District Coordinating Office (DCO) later that morning but the Hebron District Ministry of Education told the Israeli military it was inappropriate for the DCO to make that demand without first consulting the Ministry, so the principal did not attend the meeting.
Later that day, the team learned that members of the paratroopers brigade had invaded the apartment building where the internationals and Palestinian families were living, telling them that they needed to do so for "practice." CPTers observed them conducting a similar invasion of a building in the Old City in the late afternoon. The soldiers were laughing and joking as they pounded on the doors of people's homes, demanding access, according to CPT.
Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence." Article 17(1) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Israel is a party, also protects individuals against "arbitrary or unlawful interference with [their] privacy, family and home." The International Red Cross/Red Crescent Commentary on Article 27 of the Fourth Geneva Convention stipulates that "the family dwelling and home are protected; they cannot be the object of arbitrary interference.
Elsewhere in Hebron, renovation work on a street full of shops in the Old City has been stopped by the Israeli army without explanation, according to CPT. The shopkeepers say they are anxious for the work to be completed so they can open for business.
No one was hurt or arrested in any of these incidents. CPT says that the incident serves to "illustrate the ongoing tensions that exist between the civilian population trying to go about their daily lives and the sometimes frightening behaviour of the Israeli occupation forces."
Hebron is home to approximately 165,000 people, of whom 500 are Jewish settlers.