Hebron Palestinians go on strike, clash with troops to protest settlement plan
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Hebron Palestinians go on strike, clash with troops to protest settlement plan

Shops, cafes and schools closed after action called by Fatah to demonstrate against plan to potentially double number of Israeli settler housing units in flashpoint city

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

A Palestinian protester throws a tire during clashes with Israeli security forces in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, on December 9, 2019, amid a general strike over Israeli settlement activity. (HAZEM BADER / AFP)
A Palestinian protester throws a tire during clashes with Israeli security forces in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, on December 9, 2019, amid a general strike over Israeli settlement activity. (HAZEM BADER / AFP)

Shops, schools and offices were shuttered in Hebron, and young men clashed with troops in the city center as Palestinians protested a plan to expand Jewish settlement activity in the flashpoint city Tuesday.

Pictures posted on social media platforms showed stores and schools closed and streets with few passersby.

Fatah, the party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, called for the strike on Saturday.

The move aimed to “confront the settlement offensive targeting the city and its old town,” the official Palestinian Authority news site Wafa reported.

Last week, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett ordered his office to begin the planning process to convert a former Palestinian market in Hebron into settler housing, potentially doubling the number of Israelis in the West Bank city.

A picture taken on December 9, 2019 shows closed Palestinian shops in the southern West Bank city of Hebron after the Palestinian Fatah political party called a general strike over Israeli settlement activity in the area. (HAZEM BADER / AFP)

The strike was observed in other cities and villages in the Hebron region as well.

A Hebron resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that he saw a group of activists with their faces covered, making sure that store owners closed down their shops.

In the early afternoon, clashes broke out in the center of the Hebron between young Palestinians and Israeli security forces. Videos and pictures showed the Palestinians lighting tires on fire and hurling rocks at the security forces, who responded by firing tear gas.

A Palestinian protester kicks a burning tire away during clashes with Israeli security forces in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, on December 9, 2019, amid a general strike over Israeli settlement activity. ( HAZEM BADER / AFP)

Dozens of Palestinians suffered from tear gas inhalation, a separate Wafa report stated.

The IDF did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Israeli soldiers clash with Palestinian protesters in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, on December 9, 2019, amid a general strike over Israeli settlement activity. (HAZEM BADER / AFP)

Hebron is home to approximately 1,000 settlers, who live in a series of enclaves surrounded by some 215,000 Palestinians. Large numbers of Israeli security forces protect Jewish residents in the city, which is frequently the scene of violence.

Hebron also is the site of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which Jews and Muslims revere as the burial site of the the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs. While Jews refer to the site as the Tomb of Patriarchs, Muslims call it the Ibrahimi Mosque.

Bennett’s order came two weeks after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the Trump administration does not view settlements as a violation of international law.

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