Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon will decide by April 11 whether or not settlers will be allowed to move into the Al Rajabi building in the Palestinian neighborhood of Wadi Hussein. If settlers take possession of the building, the humanitarian impacts of their presence and the increased military presence which will follow, will undoubtedly be severe for the surrounding Palestinian neighborhood.
Palestinian organizers working with the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee have asked that internationals contact the Israeli Defense Minister and their consulates and elected representatives , asking them to contact the office of the Defense Minister and state their object to settler expansion into the Al Rajabi building on humanitarian grounds.
On the afternoon of March 20, about 20 soldiers arrived at the Al Rajabi house and moved luggage and food into the building, while a settler sat parked in a car in front of the building. A neighbor two buildings away reported that the previous day he received a stop work order from soldiers for work he is doing to improve his house, and the owner of a nearby barber shop reported that during the night the previous week settlers damaged the doors to his shop.
The Al-Rajabi building is on Prayers road, across Wadi Hussein from the settlement of Kiryat Arba. It is directly in front of a Mosque and cemetery, and surrounded on both sides and across prayers road by multiple Palestinian homes and businesses. Prayers Road is closed to Palestinian traffic, and connects the settlements of Kiryat Arba, Givat
Harsina and Givat Ha’avot to the synagogue at the Ibrahimi Mosque and the settlements of Beit Romano, Beit Hadassah, Avraham Avinu and Tel Rumeida in the Old City area of Hebron. Several Palestinian families live in homes in the valley of Wadi Hussein, a narrow strip of agricultural land between Prayers road and the settlement of Kiryat Arba.
The presence of settlers in the Al Rajabi building is likely to lead to increased restrictions of movement for Palestinians living in the neighborhood. Other likely humanitarian impacts on the surrounding neighborhood include additional checkpoints, closure of pedestrian paths, closure of shops, stop work orders and demolitions of nearby hones, increased danger to children traveling past the house to reach school, difficulty in accessing the cemetery and mosque adjacent to the building, and possible loss of agricultural land in Wadi Hussein.
Settlers have occupied the house on numerous occasions since March of 2007 during the extended court proceeding to determine ownership, and each time the neighborhood has experienced settler violence, including assaults, damage to cars, shops and homes, and injury to Palestinians from the use of live ammunition. In December 2008 over 20 Palestinians were injured in clashes with settlers near the building when settlers were evicted from the building by border police.
Residents and human rights advocates are now extremely concerned that if settlers are allowed to take control of the building it will become impossible to insure the safety of nearby families.
Please ask that Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon act to prevent a humanitarian crisis by opting not to allow settler occupation of the Al Rajabi building.
Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon
37 Kaplan Street, Hakirya
Tel Aviv 61909, Israel
Fax: +972 3 696 2757
Salutation: Dear Minister
US Secretary of State John Kerry
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
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U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv, American Citizen Services, 71 HaYarkon Street, Tel Aviv 6343229, Israel
03-519-7475 Monday to Thursday between 2 and 4 p.m and 03-519-7575 (after hours and emergencies)
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