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Perilous Lives of Palestinian Children in Hebron

On eve of World Children Day, Palestinian children in Hebron narrate daily dose of harassment by Israeli soldiers, settlers

Children of some 33,000 Palestinians living behind barbed wires in Hebron, the Palestinian city in the southern West Bank, 30 kilometers (18 miles) south of Jerusalem are subjected to daily harassment while passing through Israeli military checkpoints.

On eve of World Children Day, speaking to Anadolu Agency, many children narrated stories of insults and horrors heaped on them by Israeli soldiers and Jewish settlers every day.

Waa’d Sharabati,16, said she was facing harassment every day while on her way to school at the military checkpoint on Al-Shuhada street in the heart of the old Hebron city, which is isolated from other parts, since February 1994 after the massacre at the historic Ibrahimi Mosque.

“On the opposite side of the street, a family of settlers threatens and insults us every time. We cannot stand near the window or on the street to avoid them” says Waa’d.

Every day Waa’d have to leave the old city to go to her school on foot because the Arabs are not allowed to use vehicles. Only Jewish settlers have the luxury to use cars.

“My movement from my house to my school is controlled by the soldiers. No one can visit us easily. The army on the military checkpoint does not allow any Palestinian to pass unless registered with the Israeli occupation soldiers, “Waa’d told Anadolu Agency.

Zedain Sharabati,51, Waa’d’s father said his children are suffering from nightmares as the Israeli army has stormed his house many times and destroyed the furniture. He said they have helplessly watched them arresting children frequently without any reason.

“Last year, the children of the settlers on the opposite throw some balls on soldiers from their window. Instead of catching them, the army stormed my house and arrested my 13-year old son Yousef and his 15-year old cousin Marwan. Because soldiers found marbles balls near our house.” said Zedain, who lost his eye a few years ago when the settlers tossed a stone on him.

Even little children face detention

The soldiers have detailed children as small as Rand, 11, and her seven-year-old brother. Both are studying at Qurtoba school which is also located on Al-Shuhada street.

Their father, Zedain documented the detention of his sons and their classmates many times.

“My children are now afraid to go outside alone. They wake up several times at nights and screams” he said.

Saleh Abu-Shamseh, from Tel Irmida locality surrounded by Israeli settlements, has no choice but to pass through Jewish settlements before reaching home.

Saleh, 12, has video graphed many times detention of his father, Emad who is a local civil rights activist, while passing through the road.

Emad is leading an initiative to document incidents against school children since 2017.

“The initiative came after many children were arrested or shot at the crossing points. This project is important for these children because the courts several times adopted these videos as evidence,” he said.

Once, when he has documented such an incident, he found the child being harassed and detained appeared his son.

“It was very difficult for me, but I continued what I was doing,” Emad added.

Israel exercises direct control over the 20% of Hebron known as the H2 area, which is home to some 33,000 Palestinians and a few hundred Israeli settlers.

According to the Hebron Protocol of 1997, the H1, is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. All security arrangements and travel permits for residents are coordinated between the Palestinian Authority and Israel via military administration of the West Bank.

The Jewish settlers have their own governing municipal body, the Committee of the Jewish Community of Hebron.

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