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Palestinians protest against Israeli settlement plan in Hebron

Published : 10 Dec 2019, 02:10

  DF-Xinhua Report

Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian protester in the West Bank village of Soreef near Hebron, on Nov. 22, 2019. File Photo Xinhua.

Some Palestinians on Monday protested Israel's decision to build a new settlement in the center of the southern West Bank city of Hebron.

The witnesses and security sources said clashes broke out between dozens of Palestinians and Israeli forces in front of Israeli army roadblocks in the city.

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said in a press statement that three demonstrators were shot and wounded by Israeli soldiers' gunfire, while dozens suffered suffocation after inhaling tear gas during the clashes.

The protests broke out following Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett's declaration that a new neighborhood for Jewish settlers will be constructed in the old city of Hebron, where the place has been basically a public market for Palestinian merchants.

Before the protests, a general strike dominated the city, where all official institutions, as well as stores, closed down upon the request of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah Movement.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Ishtaye backed the Palestinian protests in Hebron against the settlement aggression that the city faces.

A Palestinian source told Xinhua that the Israeli Civil Administration sent a letter to the municipality of Hebron.

The source quoted the Israeli letter as saying that if there is an opposition, legal measures will be taken against the municipality.

"The Israeli letter said that the land on which the central market was located was owned by Jews before the establishment of Israel," the source said.

Emad Hamdan, director of the Committee to Reconstruct Hebron, said, "The aim is to expel the Palestinians and replace them by Jewish settlers in the old city of Hebron."

Hamdan added that Israel is planning to connect the new neighborhood with the Jewish settlement of Keryat Arba, and the whole area of the old market has been under full Israeli military control since 1994.

Meanwhile, Shadi Othman, with the Office of the European Union Representative in Jerusalem, told Voice of Palestine that the Israeli settlement policy in Hebron and all the Palestinian areas in the West Bank and East Jerusalem "is absolutely rejected" by the EU.

"The settlement activity puts big question marks over the extent of Israel's commitment to the two-state solution," said Othman, who called on Israel "to stop settlement measures which contribute to eroding the two-state solution."

The settlement issue has been a most prominent aspect of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and one of the main causes of the breakdown of the last peace negotiations between the two sides in 2014.