Signboards that Israeli colonists started installing in Hebron giving new Jewish names for the city's streets and roundabouts. Source: Youth Against Colonisation Campaign.

Ramallah: Israeli colonists in the West Bank city of Hebron have been changing the names of the city’s main streets and key roundabouts, particularly in the old town, in what has been described as a bid to erase the city’s Arab character and Judaise it. The work is occurring under the protection of the Israeli forces.

According to Eisa Amr, the General Coordinator of Palestinian Youth against Colonisation Campaign, the colonists aim is to erase Arab and Muslim street names, especially in the old town and areas surrounding Al Ebrahimi Mosque.

“Israeli colonists have been removing the Palestinian signboards and replacing them with new signboards written in Hebrew and English bearing biblical names inspired from the Torah,” Amr told Gulf News.

The Palestinian signs were produced and installed on the city’s streets decades ago. Hebron accommodates the West Bank’s biggest Jews-only colony of Kiryat Arba’a whose population exceeds a quarter of a million. Six other colonies are located in the area and surround the old town and Al Haram Al Sharif.

“Hebron, with its old town and Al Haram Al Sharif, has been a key target for colonists in the region and they work tirelessly to Judaise the region,” he said.

He said that the work to change the names had started under wraps with the help of the Israeli military forces, but the new signs, which the colonists install cannot be covered.

So far, the main street in Tal Al Ramida has been changed to Tarbat Street, and Al Shuhada’a Street, which was sealed off to Palestinians a long while ago, has been changed to King David Street.

Amr said that Hebron is a key tourist destination in the West Bank. “Changing the names of the streets was the last step in Judaising the city,” he said, adding that the move was aimed at uprooting thousands of years old Arab and Muslim culture and heritage from the city.

Amr said that Hebron’s old town and the areas surrounding Ebrahimi Mosque suffer daily attacks by Israeli colonists who turn the lives of the residents “into hell” but the Palestinian residents of Hebron are determined to remain in their homes.

Hebron residents and institutions have vowed to fight back and remove the signs and reinstate the old Arab and Muslim inspired signs which were there before the 1967 war.