When I first encountered the word, “settlement,” I thought it was comprised of tents and people touting guns to settle a piece of barren land. But in this part of the world, “settlements” pretty much mean physical concrete structures that are built smack dab in the middle of existing Arab neighborhoods.
So how does that affect the local population (read: Palestinians) who have been living there for centuries?
I think the best approach is simply to examine the physical structures that surround a settlement. I’ll take Beit Romano as an example (pictured above).
In order to “secure” a settlement, the Israelis would create buffer zones (“secure areas”) around a settlement.
They would create these buffer zones by:
- Evicting Palestinian tenants out of their buildings
- Welding shut Palestinians’ stores
- Closing off roads to Palestinians
One of my Palestinian friends’ parents used to live in the house pictured on the right, but they were soon evicted after the Israelis deemed them a security threat. Now, a soldier occupies the roof of the building.
To give you an idea of the economic impact of the settlements in Hebron, 1,829 Palestinian shops located in and around Hebron’s Old City have closed between 2000 and 2007. Of the closed shops, 440 of them were closed due to military orders.
The map below shows the extent of the closures in Hebron’s city center. All the areas shaded in purple are the closed areas, while the blue areas are the Israeli settlements.
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