The Suffering Story of Wadi al-Hussein

Hebron/ HRC/
Wadi al-Hussein is a wadi (valley) located to the north-east of the Ibrahimi mosque (Cave of the Patriarchs) in Hebron’s old city. The valley is considered a natural geographical and demographic expanse of the city of Hebron. The eastern border of the valley is the adjacent settlement of KiryatAraba’ while the western border consists of Jaber and al-Salayma neighborhoods that separate the valley from the Ibrahimi mosque.

Wadi al-Hussein is a connected to a street confiscated by the Israeli occupying powers under frail pretexts. The street is only available for soldiers’ and settlers’ vehicles whilst Palestinian vehicles are denied access. Palestinians are not allowed to walk on foot on the street on Saturdays and on Jewish festivities, among other occasions.

Not only do the Israeli authorities impose restrictions on the access of Palestinian vehicles, they have also set up a number of military barriers and checkpoints at the borders and entrances of the area to ensure its alienation from its surroundings.  Such practices have inflicted a severe amount of suffering on the inhabitants of the area across different spheres, including social, cultural, humanitarian, economic, and recreational aspects of life. That stands in stark violation of the rights guaranteed
by national, regional and international human rights and laws.

Direct and indirect ramifications of the practices of the Israeli occupation against the isolated Palestinian population in the area, include:

The impact of closure on social life:
The Israeli occupation authorities have adopted a policy of exerting pressure and tightening the siege on Palestinian citizens to force them to flee their homes. The Israeli occupation army has pursued the policy of raiding houses on a regular basis. During such break-ins, Israeli soldiers detain residents or threaten them and/or take individuals to jail after destroying the contents of houses. Besides, the Israeli army
often turns a blind eye to settlers who regularly harass Palestinian citizens and attack their houses in Wadi al-Hussein and al-Salayma and Jaber neighborhoods. Some of the attacks on the part of settlers include: shooting at Palestinian civilians, throwing stones at Palestinians’ houses, destroying private property, and harassing children and women in specific..

The closure of the area, the restrictions on movement and the difficulty of communication have led to social isolation on the part of the inhabitants of that corner of the world. They are cut off from the rest of the city and cannot visit each other or take part in the happy and sad events of their relatives and loved ones.

The impact of the closure on economy:
The hassle of accessing goods into the area has led many merchants to close their shops and get out of business. Given that the occupation authorities prevent the opening of new shops, the Palestinian population has to buy their daily needs from  neighboring areas, and thus endure the inconvenience of transporting their purchases to their houses. Palestinian inhabitants are forced to use horse-drawn vehicles or hand carts to transport heavy objects, such as household furniture and cooking gas pipes.

This is done after being subjected to military checkpoints for a thorough inspection and procrastination to allow these purchases to pass through the area. The area’s lack of workshops has pushed the working class to undergo daily traffic in the morning and evening and pass through the barriers by the Israeli
occupation.The area’s closure has contributed to a rise of the unemployment rate in comparison to open areas.

The impact of the closure on the educational domain:
There are no elementary schools and kindergartens in Wadi al-Hussein, thus children are forced to travel long distances on their way to and from schools in nearby neighborhoods. Students have to cross more than one checkpoint on their daily journey. In many cases, Israeli soldiers deliberately fire sound and tear gas bombs at them, causing students to pass out or get injured.

Students are also subjected to attacks by hateful settlers roaming the area while teachers often undergo humiliating searches whilst crossing military checkpoints.

The impact of the closure at security levels:

The Palestinian residents of this area suffer from lack of security and safety measures and feel that their lives and property are at risk. This feeling is further solidified with the repeated attacks by the settlers and the Israeli occupation army. Settlers patrol the area under the protection and support of the Israeli occupation army.

 

The Israeli army has installed a number of checkpoints and observation towers in front or on the roof of Palestinians’ houses. That means residents lack privacy as the occupying forces often breach it.

The psychological effects of the closure:
· The closure has negatively affected the psychological health of every individual living in the isolated area, and that can be attributed to a number of reasons, including:

· The unjustified break-ins by the Israeli army, most frequently at nighttime but also throughout the day, and without any beforehand warning.

· Hindering students’ access to their schools through detention and assaults. The ill-treatment and obstacles on the way have had direct and indirect consequences on their educational achievement,and have played a role in the rising number of dropouts.

· Targeting children in the attacks committed by settlers.

· The closure has negatively affected the well-being of children who suffer from fear as a result of the arbitrary measures of the Israeli occupation forces. Some of these measures include shooting directly at youth and adopting the policy of detaining minors, raiding the houses of their families and assaulting members  of their families without any consideration to their age and psychological state.

· Lack of places for recreation and entertainment, especially for children. It is a necessary need and right for children to play. Indeed,this right is no less important than physical health, food or education. The state of siege in addition to the continuous surveillance of the Israeli occupation army has created an atmosphere of fear that could reach to the level of panic among children. Some of them come to suffer from behavior disorders.Palestinian children are denied parks and recreational games whilst their counterparts enjoy themin the adjacent settlement of KiryatAraba’.

The impact of closure on health services:
The level of care and health services has drastically been affected. Palestinian Ambulances, like Palestinian vehicles in general, are denied access. That perpetuates the suffering of patients who need to walk or fully rely on relatives to carry them out of the area. Patients then need to obtain permission from the Israeli soldiers to cross to the other side where ambulances or other vehicles await them. The closure of the area has harmful ramifications on maternal and child care as well as on care for the elderly.

The impact of the closure on urban life:
The Israeli occupation authorities prohibit any new construction plans, although this is a humanitarian right that meets the demands of the natural increase of population. Not only constriction schemes, the Israeli authorities also prevent the renovation work implemented by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee on existing houses. The authorities do grant access to constriction tools and materials. As a result, Palestinian residents resort to the use of horse-drawn vehicles to solve the problem of transporting materials, furniture among others.

These arbitrary measures are adopted by the Israeli occupation against the isolated Palestinian population in the area that is located between Kiryat Araba’ and Tel Rumeida. These measures are carried out with the goal of emptying the area of its Palestinian population.Exerting pressure on Palestinians,intimidating them, and creating a state of social isolation are some of the abovementioned measures. The Israeli occupation wants to force Palestinians to leave the area so Israeli settlers can take it over and ensure a state of geographical contiguity between Kiryat Araba’ and the Ibrahimi mosque on one hand, and between Kiryat Araba’ and other military posts at the heart of Hebron’s old city on the other.