Palestinians hold up signs in support of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron outside its headquarters in Hebron earlier this week. (Hazen Bader/AFP/Getty Images)

Abbas Urges Palestinians in Hebron To Confront Settlers

Palestinian Authority president reportedly released an audio clip calling on residents of the city to ‘Curse the father of the settlers’

An audio recording of a phone call between Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas and residents of Hebron was reportedly posted on social media in which the leader urged Palestinians to directly confront Israeli settler attacks in light of what he claimed were increasing assaults on the former.

“Curse the father of the settlers,” Abbas reportedly said, according to the residents.

“He didn’t ask them to kill or destroy; he asked them to defend themselves in one way or another,” a Palestinian official who requested anonymity, told The Media Line. “Abbas made the remark to reassure Palestinian citizens in Hebron and raise their spirits,” he added.

Abbas is acutely aware of the daily attacks carried out by Israeli settlers against Palestinian citizens in the West Bank, he contended. “He knows about their trees, properties and streets—especially after the Israeli government decided to end the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), an international contingent that monitors life in the city.

“It’s therefore an angry reaction to terrorist attacks that have been increasing lately in Hebron.”

The official added that Abbas is a peaceful person and tirelessly advocates for peace to the point of “defending security coordination with Israel at the expense of upsetting his own people.” However, he noted, the leader “has to empower his people and support their steadfastness in the face of the recent attacks.”

Bilal al-Shubaki, a Palestinian political analyst, told The Media Line that based on international law, the Israeli presence in Hebron is illegal. Therefore, Palestinian residents should use all available means to defend themselves.

“We don’t support or approve violence, but President Abbas’ invitation has to do with the situation in the area. The suffering of the people and injustices force them to respond to violence coming from the other side,” al-Shubaki said, clarifying that Abbas “is against violence, which leads to the horrific situation of the city” pushing residents to resort to it.

Based on how Hebron is divided between Israelis and Palestinians, the latter are not allowed to pass through specific areas only because they are Muslims, he explained. “What we are witnessing here is discriminatory violence, which allows Jews only to use certain streets while barring Palestinians from using them. Even the United States has condemned the situation.”

In 1994, Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli-American doctor, opened fire on Palestinian worshipers inside an area of The Cave of the Patriarchs that was serving as a mosque, killing 29 and injuring 150. Thereafter, Israel divided it into two sections—the Ibrahimi Mosque and a synagogue—with separate entrances.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu recently refused to extend the TIPH’s mandate, even though the contingent of international observers has been stationed in the city for almost 25 years, citing its bias against Israel.

The TIPH was deployed to monitor and record incidents between the city’s roughly 100,000 Palestinian residents and a small Jewish enclave of about 800 people. The PA controls 80 percent of Hebron while Israel controls the areas where its citizens live, including the Tomb of the Patriarchs, known to Muslims as the Sanctuary of Abraham.

The TIPH largely consists of observers from Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.

“Abbas is annoyed, embarrassed and helpless,” Moeen al-Taher, a Jordanian political analyst, told The Media Line, adding that the PA leader is fed-up with the constant attacks from the Israelis but at the same time is out of options.

Nevertheless, al-Taher concluded, Abbas “has to do something about it, maybe send a group of civil police officers to protect the people.”

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