By: Thaer Faqouseh
school children in the Old City of Hebron are waiting to go to their schools through the gates of Israeli occupation, equipped with radioactive inspection equipment
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons:
About 1,000 pupils from the old city of Hebron pass through dozens of radioactive gates to reach their schools near the Ibrahimi Mosque on a daily basis. In addition to their lessons at school, they also memorize the sirens of these gates that expose their bodies to harmful radiation, not to mention the thousands of citizens who cross these checkpoints on their way to their homes in the old city of Hebron.
Statistics indicate that there are more than one hundred checkpoints and radioactive gates around the old city of Hebron; some of which are similar to the gates at the border crossings, such as "Abu al-Rish, 106 and the one at the entrance to “Shuhada Street”. These checkpoints include a number of different rooms equipped with radiographs that expose around 60 thousand citizens living in the old town to radiation at least twice a day.
The “Israeli Civil Administration” published on April 2017 an aerial map highlighting the aim to add two new checkpoints equipped with radiographic screening devices near Tel Rumeida neighborhood in the old city.
Pupils are the First Victims
The Planning Department in the Directorate of Education in Hebron indicates the existence of four schools besieged by settlements and military barracks in the old city (Al-Faiha, Al-Ibrahimiya, Ziad Jaber and Qurtoba schools). Every morning, about 1,000 pupils (males and females) are manually inspected and forced to cross these gates to reach their schools without taking into consideration the health problems that these devices may cause due to daily exposure, which is particularly dangerous for children aged between 6 and 15 years.
Through these humiliating procedures, the occupation deprives the pupils of their right to freedom of movement and learning, in addition to exposing them to potential damage by shedding radiation on their bodies for sometimes up to 20 minutes. More than one hundred teachers from these schools are also subject to these measures that have been imposed on the old city since Al-Aqsa Intifada in late 2000.
The Planning Department mentioned that these checkpoints negatively impact the psychology of pupils, leading to depression and increasing violence, especially when these children are subjected to screaming and humiliating inspection by heavily armed soldiers.
The Israeli occupation has not only created checkpoints that surround the Ibrahimi Mosque and tighten the grip on the citizens, but rather, they have developed four new radioactive gates in the form of rooms on the entrances to the mosque equipped with radiological screening devices to “form a barrier between the citizens and God”, according to the Hebron directorate of Awqaf and Islamic Affairs. These gates turned into death traps and have caused the death of twenty-six martyrs who were killed either in or around it.
We may need an international investigation committee to examine the radiation emitted from these radioactive gates, which are installed by the occupation forces in the majority of Palestinian territories, with Hebron being the city containing the most checkpoints and radioactive gates.
For Security Reasons
According to the Legal Department of Hebron Municipality, dozens of cases have been filed for the so-called "Israeli High Court of Justice" to prevent the establishment of these gates in the old city of Hebron due to the siege, restrictions and geographical isolation that they cause. However, these cases were rejected with Israel claiming that the gates were established for "security reasons."
Translated by: Ghadeer Kamal Zaineh