The army cited fear of violence against the activists as cause for its refusal to grant permission for an action to remove the signs. Rabbis for Human Rights: This is an example of the army selectively using a security concerns argument in a discriminative manner. The army regularly grants protection to marches where symbols of Jewish terrorist organizations are flaunted, often through the heart of Palestinian areas. However, in this case, the army refuses to secure a legitimate action that it is supposed to carry out itself.
On Sunday, 20 Nissan (April 16 2017) the Office of the Military Legal Advisor to the Judea and Samaria Area responded to Rabbis for Human Rights with a refusal to allow activists from the organization to remove offensive signs in Hebron; they also refused to provide protection to the activists during the action. The reason cited, among other things, was the concern of violence and security threats facing the activists “in light of the almost certain likelihood of violence and even life-threatening friction.”
Background: On April 3 2017, Rabbis for Human Rights together with the Palestinian collective “Youth Against Settlements” requested that the army secure them as they remove offensive signs mounted in Hebron on private Palestinian property and/or on streets where the majority of residents are Palestinians.
Signs presenting the settler narrative of the area have been imposed on Palestinian shops and other private properties without the owner’s consent. Additionally, Arabic street names were given new Hebrew names and signs were removed and replaced with ones exclusively in Hebrew and English. This has occurred on streets where Palestinian residents are the majority, and via a process that has not been approved by either the Hebron municipality or by the military authorities.
These sign exchanges, apparently carried out by elements within the Hebron settler community, violates the cultural and social rights of the Palestinians, is in contravention to the law, and has been carried out without the approval of the authorities. The army, however, has increased culpability in this situation as activities were carried out under its protection in a clear capitulation to the coercive tactics of a small and extremist group. Not only did the army — as the force responsible for the area under both Israeli and international law — refuse to act against the offensive signs itself, it also prohibited Israeli and Palestinian activists from taking action themselves.
Rabbis for Human Rights:
These offensive signs in Hebron constitute a violation of Palestinians’ social, proprietary, and cultural rights, and is demeaning to the Palestinian population. Imagine how we would respond if Jewish shops in France were forced to hang signs that express the Palestinian narrative; Imagine how a Palestinian merchant or tenant feels when he sees these signs placed without permission on his property or on his street every day. How far away is this despicable activity from the commandment: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” -Exodus 22:21
The refusal to permit and secure the removal of these signs in Hebron demonstrates a discriminatory security policy enforced by the army: Authorisation and security for activities is only available for those whose worldview is connected to the extreme right of the Jewish people. For example, marches, such as the Adloyada (Purim parade), where signs bearing symbols of an organization defined as a terrorist one are frequently flaunted, and where racist slogans against the Arab population are chanted are permitted and secured frequently. However, action to take down unauthorised signs is banned. Therefore, the use of the pretext of “security concerns” reflects nothing but blatant discrimination, the sanctioning of terrorising Palestinians, the denial of human rights, and the use of the Israeli army as a tool of elements in the extreme right-wing.