Hebron is an ancient Palestinian holy city which enjoys a very rich history and cultural heritage that goes back to 4000 B.C.It is considered to be the 4th holy city for Muslims.Hebron is currently the largest Palestinian city in terms of both its area and population which exceeds 250,000 inhabitants. It is also considered as the capital of the southern West Bank: more than 750,000 people live in Hebron Governorate,
i.e. one third of Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank.Hebron is also famous for the Ibrahimi mosque which is located in the heart of its Old City and is where Prophet Abraham and his descendants are believed to be buried.
Regrettably, Hebron is currently witnessing tragic and inhumane conditions due to the Israeli occupation as well as to a group of fanatic Jewish settlers who have settled in the heart of city.Unlike other Palestinian cities, Hebron was divided into two parts (H1 and H2)according to the Hebron Protocol signed between the Palestinian National Authority and the Israeli government. H2 areas remain under Israeli security control.This division, caused by the presence of Jewish settlers in the heart of the city, has brought about daily suffering for the local population due to the closure of main roads linking the south of the city to its north (AlShuhada Street) and the closure of all Old City main access points. In the 1980s, the Israeli army had also confiscated the city’s central bus station and its wholesale vegetable market for the sole purpose of protecting those settlers.
Ever since 1967, Israel has implemented policies aimed at emptying the Old City of its Palestinian inhabitants. It has imposed harsh measures on Palestinians, including long curfews, and has resorted to their collective harassment. Today, Palestinians are barred from all streets surrounding Israeli settlements while more than 1800 shops remain closed by Israeli military orders. These measures have turned the Old City into a ghost city and have caused severe economic losses.
Palestinians also face daily harassments by fanatic Jewish settlers living in the Old City. These harassments range from throwing trash on pedestrians to committing massacres like the one that took place in 1994 when a Jewish settler entered the Ibrahimi mosque and killed 29 worshippers kneeling to God during the morning prayer in the holy month of Ramadan. It is in the aftermath of this massacre that Israel decided to divide the mosque into two parts: a smaller part for Muslims and a larger part for Jewish worshippers. Rather than punishing the perpetrators of this crime, the Israeli Government punished the victims by confiscating the Ibrahimi mosque and closing down Al Shuhada Street.
A visit to the mosque today resembles a visit to military barracks, with at least 5 electronic gates manned by heavily armed Israeli soldiers surrounding the site. As a result of these measures, the mosque seems to have lost its spiritual holiness.
In my capacity as the Mayor of Hebron and on behalf of the inhabitants of my city, I appeal to your excellency to intervene by exerting pressure on the Israeli government to put an end to the daily harassment of Palestinians in the Old City and to reopen all closed areas and streets. What Hebron is living today is indeed real apartheid.
Please allow me to thank you for the support of and role by the UN in the Palestinian territory on the social, economic and political levels. I would also like to seize this opportunity to underline a number of key aspirations that Palestinians would like to fulfill through the UN:
1- Achieve their right to self-determination and put an end to the Israeli occupation in line with UN resolutions;
2- Create an independent Palestinian State with East Jerusalem as its capital;
3- Exert pressure on the Israeli government to stop building Jewish settlements;
4- Accept Palestine’s bid to become the194th UN Member State;
5- Release all Palestinian detainees from Israeli detention centers;
6- Find a fair solution to the issue of refugees according to UN Resolution 194.
Finally, please allow me to acknowledge and laude your great efforts as well as those of your representative in Palestine,Mr. Robert Serry.
Mayor of Hebron