Update: Israelis demolish Palestinian shops in Hebron

Six Palestinian stores in the heart of Hebron's old city and former vegetable market were demolished by an Israeli-manned bulldozer at night. Friends of Hebron believes that the demolition will pave the way for Israeli settlement expansion. The stores have been forcefully closed by Israeli military for nearly three decades for alleged security reasons. The stores were initially forced closed after the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994—an act of punishing the Palestinian victims—after which they were briefly reopened and then re-closed in 2000. Around 500 Palestinian shops were similarly forced closed during this time. Another approximately 1000 shops had to close down due to the Israeli practice of creating coercive environments that pressure Palestinian families to leave their homes and owners to abandon their businesses.

This incident violates international and Israeli laws and plays part of an increasingly aggressive and expansionist military presence and settlement strategy in Hebron. It follows the process of forcing closed civilian areas, militarizing and depopulating them, and then allowing Israeli settlements to take them over. The incident also exposes the arbitrariness of Israeli security measures, acting as mere excuses for depopulating Palestinian areas to facilitate settlement expansion.