PALESTINIANS FORCED TO LEAVE HOMES IN CENTRAL HEBRON: STUDY
More than 40 percent of Palestinians living in the center of the West Bank city of Hebron, under Israeli control, have been forced to leave their homes, and more than 75 percent of their shops have shut down, according to a survey released Monday by two Israeli human rights groups.
B'Tselem and The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said the exit of Palestinians from the center of Hebron resulted from Israel's policy of separation between Jews and Arabs and hardships imposed on the local Palestinian population.
Hebron is believed by Jews and Muslims to be the site where biblical patriarchs were buried and is a frequent flashpoint. Israel controls the center, where about 500 settlers live in heavily guarded enclaves among about 160,000 Palestinians. The Palestinians control the rest of the city.
The survey showed that at least 1,014 Palestinian housing units, which account for 41.9 percent of those in the area, are empty. Of these, 65 percent were vacated during the course of the second Palestinian uprising, which began in 2000.
B'Tselem spokeswoman Sarit Michaeli said the Palestinians were essentially forced to move because the army imposed strict limitations on their movement and livelihoods. She said by giving preference to the needs of the settlers and creating a separation based on ethnicity, the army has created a "ghost town" in central Hebron.