News story | Date: 29/04/2009
On 28 April, Brigadier Britt T.B. Brestrup took over command of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH). Brestrup is the first female head of mission and commands a civilian observer force of 64 persons.
On 28 April, Brigadier Britt T.B. Brestrup took over command of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH). Brestrup is the first female head of mission and commands a civilian observer force of 64 persons. She has broad experience from the Norwegian Armed Forces and from international operations in Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq. Brestrup takes over from Brigadier Roy C. Grøttheim, who has been head of mission for the last 15 months.
TIPH is a neutral multi-national observer force, which seeks to increase the sense of security for the Palestinian population in Hebron in the West Bank. Norway is TIPH coordinator and provides the head of mission. Six countries – Turkey, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Norway – provide observers. The Norwegian contingent is made up of 20 persons with different backgrounds.
Hebron is a holy city for both Muslims and Jews. The Mosque at Abraham’s tomb in Hebron was the site of a massacre in February 1994, when a Jewish extremist, Baruch Goldstein, shot and killed 29 Palestinians.
The population of around 130 000 is mainly Palestinian, but a group of around 500 Jewish settlers have moved into the city centre. Hebron is the only Palestinian city with Jewish settlements in urban areas. The settlement Kiryat Arba, which is just outside the city is home to some 6000 Jewish settlers. The conflict between Palestinians and Jewish settlers in Hebron is at times very intense.
Mandate and area of operation
The TIPH mandate was set out in the TIPH agreement of 1997 between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. TIPH is to promote stability in Hebron by monitoring and reporting the parties’ own efforts to maintain normal living conditions in the city, especially in the areas around the Israeli settlements. TIPH reports to the parties and to the member countries.
It is the parties, not TIPH, that are responsible for finding a solution to the conflict in Hebron and for protection the civilian population.
TIPH’s core activity, and the basis for its reports, is patrolling the conflict-torn part of Hebron, which is under Israeli security control (H2), both on foot and by car. TIPH also seeks to maintain a visible presence in tense security situations, where there are clashes between Israelis and Palestinians.