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Israeli forces seal off Palestinian city of al-Khalil

Israeli forces block areas in the Palestinian city of al-Khalil on November 4, 2018. (Photo by Ma’an News Agency)

Israel forces have closed off several areas of the West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) under the pretext of marking an annual religious event, Palestinian media reports say.

According to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency, large numbers of Israeli forces were deployed across the city to seal off various streets on Sunday.

Israeli soldiers and snipers also took up positions on rooftops to ease access for Israeli settlers to a religious site in the area.

Almost all shops and businesses were forcibly closed in the Bab al-Zawiya area and Beersheba and al-Shuhada streets.

Dozens of Israeli settlers raided Palestinian houses in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood, also in al-Khalil city, and hurled stones at its residents

The restrictions and attacks come as thousands of pilgrims flock to tomb of the Patriarchs, the burial site of Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon him) and his family. The site is revered by Muslims, Jews and Christians alike.

An Israeli soldier stands guard as Jewish settlers arrive to hold the prayer at the Tomb of Patriarchs, a holy site to both Jews and Muslims, in the occupied West Bank city of al-Khalil (Hebron) on November 3, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

Israeli media reports recently said that Minister for Military Affairs Avigdor Lieberman plans to approve the construction of a new settlement in the Old City of al-Khalil, south of the West Bank.

The new settlement is to be established in an old Palestinian vegetables market in the Old City. Located in the center of al-Khalil, one of the largest cities in the West Bank, the Old City was divided into Palestinian and Israeli-controlled areas, known as H1 and H2, following the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in 1994.

The establishment of the new settlements comes in grave contravention of international law and a United Nations Security Council resolution against the Tel Aviv regime’s land grab policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Less than a month before US President Donald Trump took office, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2334, calling on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem” al-Quds.

Al-Khalil is home to some 200,000 Palestinians, among whom several hundred Israeli settlers live under heavy guard.

Israeli forces block areas in the Palestinian city of al-Khalil on November 4, 2018. (Photo by Ma’an News Agency)

Over the past months, Israeli forces have fatally shot many Palestinians in the occupied territories, claiming they sought to attack the Israelis. Tel Aviv has come under fire by rights groups for encouraging a shoot-to-kill policy.

In January, Human Rights Watch voiced deep concerns over the increasing number of Israeli officials encouraging troops to kill Palestinians even when they are not a threat.

The file photo shows an Israeli soldier standing guard during a planned tour by settlers in the city of al-Khalil (Hebron) on September 25, 2018. (Photo by AFP)

The occupied Palestinian territories have particularly witnessed increased tensions ever since Israeli forces introduced restrictions on the entry of Palestinian worshipers into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in East al-Quds in August 2015.

Hundreds of Palestinians have been killed at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of October 2015.

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