Israel’s deputy FM: Oust Hebron’s violent European observers

“The presence of the TIPH observers in Hebron causes significant damage to the IDF’s soldiers and the residents of the Jewish community in Hebron, and is incompatible with Israeli interests,” Deputy FM Hotovely said. 

By Jack Gold, World Israel News

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely has begun a process to end the deployment of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) force in the city.

According to a report by Israel Hayom, Hotovely approached Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the issue Wednesday. She recommended ending TIPH’s mandate, which is shortly coming up for renewal. Netanyahu said he would examine the issue.

TIPH, which includes observers from five European countries, has maintained a presence in Hebron since 1997.

Anti-Israel bias

While TIPH’s website says its mission is to support Israel and the Palestinian Authority “in their efforts to improve the situation in Hebron,” the group operates in a one-sided manner, critics say.

TIPH works against the Israel Defense Forces and Jewish residents of Hebron, accusing the IDF of human rights abuses and of alleged violations of the Oslo Accords and U.N. resolutions.

Though 80 percent of Hebron is controlled by the Palestinian Authority, local Jewish residents have complained about  the organization’s practice of focusing on the city’s small Jewish neighborhood, videotaping movements of soldiers and residents, interfering in IDF security operations, and attempting to influence Israeli policy.

In a letter to Netanyahu, Hotovely wrote, “The presence of the TIPH observers in Hebron causes significant damage to the IDF’s soldiers and the residents of the Jewish community in Hebron, and is incompatible with Israeli interests.”

She charged that the European force “acts as a hostile element” and “perceives itself as a critical element solely towards the IDF, while blatantly ignoring the Palestinian terrorist activity in the area.”

TIPH’s Violence in Hebron

The organization’s observers “have not satisfied themselves with biased reports against the IDF,” and has turned to physical violence as well, Hotovely said.

The organization faced international scrutiny in July after one of its members slashed the tires of a car belonging to a Jewish resident of Hebron. Leaders of the city’s Jewish community urged Netanyahu to throw the group out of the country.

The act of vandalism was caught on film, leading police to confirm the identity of the individual as a TIPH member. Instead of making him available for questioning, TIPH’s leader stonewalled, giving the suspect enough time to flee the country.

Several weeks earlier, a second video showed a TIPH member of Swiss nationality slapping a 10-year-old Jewish boy. The Swiss ambassador issued a lukewarm apology, essentially blaming the Jews for the incident.

In a statement following that event, a group of the city’s Jews said, “Hebron has no place for a provocative hostile group whose actions disturb the peace and harm the well-being of the residents of Hebron. The ‘temporary’ mandate of this force must end.”