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Leak of report into Hebron might mean end of international monitoring force

A Jewish settler walks next to observers of Temporary International Presence, or TIPH, in the West Bank city of Hebron, March 31, 2005.
AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi
The TIPH report, which is meant to be confidential, is damning of Israel's management of the area.

A report by the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) group, which was leaked to Haaretz on Monday, has led to forceful condemnation from Israel's settler right on Tuesday.

The report, which was represented by Haaretz as the "most exhaustive and damning internal report on Israel’s actions in the city" in 20 years, was obtained from anonymous sources. 

TIPH reports are meant to be confidential, and shared only with the two parties to the Hebron accords, as well as the five contributing countries. Pro-Palestinian organizations denouncing abuses in the city in the past have mostly seen the TIPH as a toothless outfit. 

The 100-page report's conclusions are extensive and detailed, showing illegal settlement extensions, curtailed freedom of movement, and illegal deportations in the Israeli-controlled area of the city.

The leak has led Hebron's Jewish community, and the settler right in Israel, to immediately demand the ousting of the group.

Moshe Asis/Wikimedia Commons

The leaders of the Israel lobby in the Knesset, parliamentarians Yoav Kisch and Bezalel Smotrich, denounced the "active and obsessive preoccupation of the observers in pro-Palestinian, anti-Semitic, defamatory and false propaganda against Israel".

The Israel lobby is a Parliamentary group, of which the primary aim is "to strengthen the State of Israel’s hold on all of the Land of Israel, particularly in Judaea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley", which collectively forms what is known as the West Bank.

The Israel lobby does not recognize Palestinian control over the area.

"We reiterate our call to the government to do the right thing and end the TIPH mandate in Hebron by the end of December," they added.

This summer, a TIPH staff member was found to have punctured the tires of a Jewish resident of Hebron, after a police investigation. A Swiss observer was also deported from Israel after allegedly slapping a settler boy. 

This has led prime minister to declare that he would decide on whether the monitoring group should remain this month.

The TIPH's mandate is renewed every six months, and is subject to approval from all parties.

Given the current government's fragile position, and the vocal criticism that Netanyahu has received from the politically crucial settler minority, it is very unlikely that it will not satisfy to the lobby's demand. 

AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi

Hebron is a flashpoint city in the West Bank, having been the theatre of an infamous massacre of Jews in 1929, in which Arabs killed close to 70 members of the centuries-old Jewish community.

The TIPH was set up in 1994 after a massacre carried out by IDF reservist Baruch Goldstein in a Hebron mosque, which killed 29 and injured 125.

It was later tasked to monitor and report on violations of the Hebron Protocol, an agreement was signed to define the rules regarding the Israeli presence in the West Bank city, which has a majority Palestinian population.

Staffed and funded by Norway, Sweden, Italy, Switzerland and Turkey, the TIPH has attracted the ire of right-wing Israelis in the past for collaborating with "Breaking the Silence."

The Israeli civil society organization offers, among other things, tours to Hebron "led by soldiers who broke their silence on their military service in the occupied territories, and explores the harsh consequences of the policy of separation and the military presence in the city."

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