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Netanyahu to 'strengthen' settlements in Hebron

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sept. 22 ordered the civil administration to allow settlers back into a stolen Palestinian property in Hebron, Israeli media reported. The move was in response to the killing of an Israeli soldier in Hebron earlier in the day, and Netanyahu announced Israel would "continue to fight terrorism…with one hand, while strengthening the settlement with the other," according to Haaretz.

In 2001, two Jewish families from a nearby settlement broke into Palestinian stores in Hebron's Old City and began living there. Israel's military issued an eviction order to the settlers, who appealed to a military committee, delaying the eviction. In 2010, Israeli rights group Peace Now petitioned the Israeli supreme court to enforce the evacuation order and last December Netanyahu's government ordered that the settlers be evacuated by April 2013.

A 1997 agreement split Hebron into areas of Palestinian and Israeli control. The Israeli military-controlled H2 zone includes the ancient Old City, home of the revered Ibrahimi Mosque—also split into a synagogue referred to as the Tomb of the Patriarchs—and the once-thriving Shuhada street, now just shuttered shops fronts and closed homes. A large Israeli military force is stationed in Hebron to protect around 500 settlers who live among 30,000 Palestinians in the H2 area.

From Ma'an News Agency, Sept. 23

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