HEBRON / AL KHALIL - PhMuseum

HEBRON / AL KHALIL

Lorenzo Tugnoli

2015 - Ongoing

West Bank, Palestinian Territory

Al Khalil, as it is known in Arabic, is a city in the West Bank where Palestinians and Jewish settlers live together in unusual close proximity. Here the conflict made its way into the small trifle of everyday life. It took the form of private spite among next-door neighbors and transformed small mundane tasks into dangerous endeavors. The old city has been for decades at the center of disputes over the Ibrahimi mosque or Cave of Patriarchs, a site of religious importance for both Islam and Judaism.

Waves of violence are coming and going during the year but the tension never eases. The heavy militarization paralyzed commercial life and turned part of the city center into a ghost town. Residents navigate through a maze of checkpoints that are often targets of attacks and demonstrations, and endure tensions between the most extreme factions from both sides.

Since early 1997, following the Hebron Protocol, the city has been divided into two areas: H1 under Palestinian control and H2 under Israeli control. H2 is home to approximately 30,000 Palestinians and about 500 Israeli settlers living in four downtown settlements and protected by around 2000 members of Israeli security forces.

Israel's security restrictions on the Old City began following the 1994 massacre of 29 Muslims praying at the Ibrahimi Mosque during Ramadan by Jewish Israeli-American doctor Baruch Goldstein. Since then Shuhada Street have been closed to Palestinian vehicles and pedestrians, and the holy site partitioned into Muslim and Jewish areas.

While the decades-long conflict evolves in its political and international implications I find it important to focus on how the civilians are affected generation after generation. Hanging on to their history, identity and land is the only way to endure a situation with no resolution in sight.

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  • Demonstration in central Hebron.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Muhannad Qafesha smokes shisha outside the headquarter of Youth Against Settlements, a pacifist organization located in Tel Rumeida neighborhood that advocated for the opening of Shuhada street.
    “The settlers are constantly harassing residents in Tel Rumeida, but the Israeli army protects them”, says Muhanned.
    Recent restrictions imposed by the Israeli army made it more difficult for the activists reach their centre. “They came many times to the centre to arrest us,” says Muhanned.
    Settlers living in Hebron’s Old City have repeatedly called for the closure of Youth Against Settlements. Members of the group have reported raids of the organization’s headquarters by settlers and Israeli forces, as well as assault on its members.
    (part of this text features an article from Palestine Monitor by Marta Feirra).

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Bab al Zawiya Checkpoint (or Checkpoint 56) is one of the main access points into the heavily restricted area of Tel Rumeida and Shuhada street from the nominally Palestinian Authority-controlled H1 area.
    Residents are required to register with the Israeli military and be assigned numbers in order to access their homes while all other Palestinians are barred from entering the area.
    Residents of Tel Rumeida often takes long detours to avoid lengthy lines at checkpoints on their way to school of workplaces. They are also banned renovate houses, to bring in construction materials or house appliances.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • A demonstration for the release of the bodies of Palestinians killed following attacks on Israelis civilian and military personnel.
    The refusal to return the bodies to their families was a policy that the Israeli authorities claimed to have ended at the end of the Second Intifada. It can take weeks or even months before the corpses are returned to their families. The refusal to turn over the dead has led to mass protests in the West Bank.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Palestinian bystanders peak through the checkpoint fence outside the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron's Old City. The checkpoint was closed for the day after Israeli forces detained a 16-year-old Palestinian girl for allegedly carrying a knife. The day before another youngster was detained in similar circumstances.
    More than 20 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli forces and settlers across the district during that period.
    Human Rights groups have condemned Israeli forces for opening fire on Palestinians who posed no imminent threat in a number of cases, and the UN has raised "concerns of excessive use of force, and violations of the right to life and security of the person."
    (Part of this text feature an article from Ma’an News website).

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Amer Quneibi plays in the courtyard of his house.
    The metal cover was installed to protect the family from stones and garbage that is regularly dumbed by Jewish settlers that lives near by.
    The Quneibi family has lived in this house in the Old City of Hebron for generations. In 1981 Jewish settlers moved in the house next door and attempted unsuccessfully to buy it. Since then there have been frequent attacks. Israeli security forces evicted the family from part of their house for a while. Then two army posts were positioned in the surrounding roofs overlooking the house. The army also run searches at night on a regular basis. Fatima, Amer’s mother, lost one baby during one such operation.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Demonstration in central Hebron.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Shadi Arafa, who was killed in the crossfire during a shooting attack in Gush Etzion.
    Official Palestinian sources said that Arafa, from Hebron, was killed by Israeli forces who opened fire during the shooting attack.
    Israeli sources say he was killed along with two other Israeli victims when a Palestinian gunmen opened fire with an automatic weapon.
    (Some of this text features part of an article from Ma’an news)

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Family members attend the funeral of Shadi Arafa.
    Shadi Arafa, who was killed in the crossfire during a shooting attack in Gush Etzion.
    Official Palestinian sources said that Arafa, from Hebron, was killed by Israeli forces who opened fire during the shooting attack.
    Israeli sources say he was killed along with two other Israeli victims when a Palestinian gunmen opened fire with an automatic weapon.
    (Some of this text features part of an article from Ma’an news).

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Palestinian stone throwers gather near Bab al Zawiya Checkpoint (or Checkpoint 56) in Hebron city.
    This checkpoint is one of the main access points from the old city into the restricted area of Tel Rumeida and Shuhada street. Israeli authorities declared the area a closed military zone on November 1st, 2015.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Adres Zahdeh takes a brake during the olive harvest.
    Settler violence during the olive harvest has historically taken a heavy toll on the thousands of Palestinian families whose annual living depends on access to their land. Settlers routinely assault Palestinians to prevent them to reach their land for the harvest, often burning olive trees and other agricultural crops.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Yaseen and his mother Fatima Quneibi take a break from olive picking in their field in Tel Rumeida. Reaching their olive trees is getting increasingly difficult and dangerous. They need to walk through Checkpoint 56 from their home and are often harassed by settlers living in the area.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Jihad Ersheid and his son.
    Jihad’s 17 years old daughter Dania was shot dead by Israeli border police at the entrance of the Ibrahimi Mosque last October. Israeli police spokesperson stated that she attempted to stab a border policeman. Palestinian witnesses disputed this version and accused the Israeli police of placing a knife at the scene.
    Israeli security forces then prevented medics from reaching her and she bled to death on the spot.
    Amnesty International has gathered evidence of this and other recent shootings in which Israeli forces used unwarranted lethal force in what were likely extrajudicial executions.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • A demonstration for the release of the bodies of Palestinians killed following attacks on Israelis civilian and military personnel.
    The refusal to return the bodies to their families was a policy that the Israeli authorities claimed to have ended at the end of the Second Intifada. It can take weeks or even months before the corpses are returned to their families. The refusal to turn over the dead has led to mass protests in the West Bank.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Palestinian stone-throwers gather near a checkpoint that leads into Tel Rumeida neighborhood.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • The deserted Shuhada street in the old city of Hebron.
    Shops are closed and access for Palestinian cars and non-residents are banned. These security measures were put in place to protect the settlers that lives in the area.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Demonstration in central Hebron.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Abed al Haseeb Zaloum, 83, now lives with his son and daughter in a house near his land.
    He witnessed the Nakba in 1948 and the start of the settlements in 1967.
    His house was demolished ten years ago by Israeli security forces because it was considered too close to the border fence of the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, in Hebron. Parts of his land were confiscated in different occasions for security reasons, and he was prevented access to others. To stop the progressive loss of his land he decided to camp on it. For ten years he then lived in a marred bus that he moved to his land. A bus, not being a building could not be removed or demolished by Israeli authorities. Now is too old to live in the bus anymore. Less than a fifth of his land's original size remains.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Imad Abu Shamsiyeh closes the metal fence that he placed around and above his house in Tel Rumeida to protect him and his family from settlers attacks.
    Since his house is in a strategic position for the expansion of the settlements he and his family were often targets of violent attacks.
    Settlers attempted to poison his water tank, and burn the house; they set his daughter hair on fire and stoned his sons in different occasions.
    Also the Israeli security forces have kept a close eye on this house, often doing search in the middle of the night to confiscate computers and hard drives. For a while they even established a guard post on his roof. His son Mohammed, in his early teens was arrested in several occasion. He is the one in the more delicate position since young males are usually more subject to detention for security reasons by the Israeli Army.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli

  • Residents of Tel Rumeida walk home at night. The night time is a particular scary moment in the deserted neighborhood of Tel Rumeida. Armed settlers sometimes carry out attacks so most of the residents avoid any unnecessary movement.

    Hebron, West Bank. November 2015.
    Credits: Lorenzo Tugnoli


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