Israel Said Expelled Hebron Monitors Caused ‘Friction,’ but Provided No Evidence

When Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan recommended not renewing the mandate of the international observer task force that monitored the the divided West Bank town of Hebron, he based his position on an Israel Police report that claimed that employees of the observer force, which was known as the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, or TIPH, of “creating situations showing friction” to justify their pay.

But the police report cited only three specific incidents in 2017 and 2018, which included two investigations into violence against TIPH observers by Jewish residents of the city. The third case involved alleged violence by an observer against a Jewish teenager.

Despite the small number of incidents cited, the report made sweeping conclusions, including the assertion that “the delegation members interfere with and confront soldiers at crossing points” and that “the delegation members have high salaries, and it appears that they are trying to justify their presence and activity in the area through situations reflecting friction ….”

>> Confidential report based on 20 years of monitoring claims: Israel regularly breaks international law in Hebron

Following Erdan’s recommendation and heavy right-wing pressure, in January 2019, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided not to renew TIPH’s mandate, which had functioned for 20 years in Hebron, a city with a large Palestinian population and small enclaves of Jews who live in uneasy coexistence.

“We will not permit the continued presence of an international force that is acting against us,” Netanyahu said at the time.

The three cases

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One of the cases mentioned in the report involves two attacks by groups of teenagers on TIPH employees who were on duty in the Jewish section of Hebron. The TIPH members’ identity tags were also stolen. The investigation of the case was closed on the grounds that the perpetrators had not been identified.

The second case involved intentional damage to a mirror on a TIPH observer’s car, allegedly by a Jewish settler. That case also closed because the vandal could not be identified.