Israeli security minister calls for ouster of ‘hostile’ Hebron observer force

“It’s no wonder that a mission comprised of police officers from hostile countries causes disturbances to the IDF and the police,” Erdan stated.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan called for the removal of a United Nations observer force that has been in place in Hebron since 1997.

A Judea and Samaria District police report, requested by Erdan, stated that the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) is not following its mandate, which is to “assist in monitoring and reporting efforts to maintain normal life in the city of Hebron, thus creating a sense of security among the Palestinians in Hebron.”

The force is obligated to report on breaches of international humanitarian and human rights law.

“The members of the mission confront Israel Defense Forces troops stationed at permanent checkpoints and disrupt standard inspection procedures of the Palestinian population going through the checkpoints,” the report said, adding that TIPH “is deliberately creating friction to justify their salaries.”

Following the report, Erdan urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to renew the group’s mandate, which is binding for only three months at a time and must be reapproved by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority in order to continue. The current agreement is valid only through the end of the month.

Countries that send observers to Hebron include Norway, Sweden, Italy and Turkey – which, the minister noted, are not sympathetic to Israel.

“It’s no wonder that a mission comprised of police officers from hostile countries—such as Turkey and other pro-Palestinian countries that promote boycott of Israel—causes disturbances to the IDF and the police,” Erdan stated. “The government should halt the activity of the TIPH, which only harms Israel.”

In November, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely also sent the prime minister a letter recommending the organization’s ouster.

“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 wrote.

The Land of Israel Caucus in the Knesset has been trying to get rid of the U.N.-backed organization for a long time due to its harassment of members of the Jewish community in Hebron, including one member slashing the tires on a Jewish resident’s car and another slapping the face of a little boy.

Just last month, chairmen Yoav Kish (Likud) and Betzalel Smotrich (Jewish Home) called on the government not to renew the TIPH mandate because its members had been running joint tours of the city with the radical left-wing group Breaking the Silence, promoting its anti-IDF propaganda.