Israeli forces suppress protest against construction of Israeli watchtower in Hebron

Israeli forces suppressed a sit-in on Friday organized by Palestinians in the south of Hebron in the occupied West Bank in order to protest Israel’s construction of an army watchtower near the village of Dura.

Last week, reports emerged that Israeli forces had declared the Kharsa Triangle — an area of land south of Dura village — a closed military zone, and had forbidden Palestinians from entering the area.

Israeli bulldozers began leveling lands in the cordoned area, in what locals told Ma’an News was preparations for the construction of an Israeli military watchtower. The Israeli army had also confiscated local Palestinian lands near the triangle in order to begin the construction, locals said.

The sit-in on Friday was launched by the National Campaign to lift the siege in Hebron in protest of the Israeli army’s new activities in the area that are expected to severely obstruct the movement of Palestinians.

Local sources told Ma’an that protesters performed Friday prayers near the site. However, following the prayers, Israeli forces prohibited protesters from gathering together for the sit-in, and began shooting sound bombs, and tear gas canisters at the Palestinians.

Locals also said that Palestinian worshippers were assaulted during the incident.

Clashes then erupted with Israeli forces, according to locals, causing “many” Palestinians and journalists to suffer from tear gas inhalation.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an she would look into reports on the incident.

Palestinians in Hebron commonly face Israeli army and settler takeovers of their lands and properties.

Over the past 10 days, Palestinians in the Hebron district have seen several homes declared military outposts by the Israeli army, including the home of Yousif Ayid Shahatit in Khursa village, the Shweiki family home in Hebron’s Old City, and the Abu Rajab home also in the Old City near the Ibrahimi Mosque, which was declared a military zone after Israeli settlers illegally took over the property.