Temporary International Presence in Hebron or TIPH is a civilian observer mission in the West Bank city of Hebron. Both the Israeli Government and Palestinian Authority called for its creation. Its main task is to "assist in monitoring and reporting the efforts to maintain normal life in the City of Hebron, thus creating a feeling of security among Palestinians in the City of Hebron." It “monitors the situation in Hebron and records breaches of international humanitarian law, the agreements on Hebron between Israel and the Palestinian authority and human rights, in accordance with internationally recognized standards". It also monitors Israeli settlers, and aims to help the Arab Palestinians who currently live there. It is staffed by personnel from Denmark, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey.
The TIPH mission was first established in 1994 after the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre on 25 February 1994, in which 29 Palestinians were killed. On 18 March, the UN Security Council condemned the massacre in United Nations Security Council Resolution 904, and called for a temporary international presence in Hebron. On 31 March, representatives of the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Israeli government signed an agreement requesting Italy, Denmark and Norway to provide observers to form a Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron (TIPH). The first TIPH mission operated from 8 May to 8 August 1994. However, the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government could not reach an agreement on the extension of the mandate, and the observers were therefore withdrawn on 8 August.
Peace negotiations between the Palestinian Liberation Organization and the Israeli Government resulted in the signing of the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (“Oslo II” or “Taba”) on 28 September 1995. It called for partial redeployment of the Israeli Defense Forces from the West Bank including Area H-1 in Hebron. It also called for the creation of another Temporary International Presence in Hebron.
On 12 May 1996, a temporary second TIPH mission observers started, this time with only Norwegian members.
After the IDF's partial redeployment from Hebron, the parties signed the Protocol Concerning the Redeployment in Hebron on 17 January 1997, and four days later The Agreement on the Temporary International Presence in the City of Hebron. The third mission, started on 1 February 1997, included observers from Norway,Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. The agreement set a three-month mandate, renewable for a period of three months. Since then the mission has been reinforced with staff from those six countries with Norway as the coordinator.
According to its mandate, the purpose of the TIPH is:
- "to promote by their presence a feeling of security to the Palestinians of Hebron;
- to help promote stability and an appropriate environment conducive to the enhancement of the well-being of the Palestinians of Hebron and their economic development;
- to observe the enhancement of peace and prosperity among Palestinians;
- to assist in the promotion and execution of projects initiated by the donor countries;
- to encourage economic development and growth in Hebron;
- to provide reports as set out in paragraph 7 [of the Agreement on the Temporary international Presence in the City of Hebron]; and
- to coordinate its activities with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities."
Members of the TIPH serve as observers and are not permitted to interfere in disputes or incidents. Instead, they report incidents to the Head of Mission of the TIPH. They have no military or police functions. The members of the TIPH voluntarily opted to be an unarmed mission.
Reports of the TIPH on breaches of international humanitarian law, agreements on Hebron and human rights are not made public. They are available to the Israeli Defense Forces, the Palestinian Police Forces, and the member states. Specifically the reports look for:Damages to private property caused by IDF or settlers.
Prolonged ID checks or verbal and physical harassments by IDF personnel.
Other breaches of international human rights standards.
Breaches of rules applicable to Hebron, such as the Interim Agreement or Hebron Protocol.
Incident reports are analysed twice weekly by the TIPH Report Assessment Group (RAG), which tries to identify patterns.
In addition to observing and creating reports, the TIPH also works on community relations projects to fulfill its mandate. The projects work to “promote a feeling of security” and “contribute to economic development” in Hebron.
One of the differentiating factors between the TIPH and most other peacekeeping forces is that it operates as a bilateral agreement reached by two conflicting parties. Furthermore, it does not have a UN mandate, and instead it is an “intergovernmental organization set up with the sole purpose to perform its mandate, which is based on a bilateral agreement signed by the Israelis and Palestinians.” The advantage of this arrangement is that without being linked to any external organizations, the TIPH serves only to perform its mandate. It operates outside any perceived bias international organizations may have.
In her analysis of TIPH, Karin Aggestam distinguishes between "neutrality" and "impartiality". According to Aggestam, TPIH is not expected to be neutral, since its mandate is to monitor the welfare of the Palestinian residents of Hebron in recognition of “the existing asymmetry between Israelis and Palestinians." Israeli authorities and particularly Israeli settlers, who have never accepted TIPH's presence, have frequently accused TIPH of having a Palestinian bias. The Palestinian civilian population often feel frustrated at TIPH's practice of observing rather than actively intervening. Aggestam judges that TIPH "strives towards an impartial and balanced practice to implement the goals stipulated in the mandate."
Furthermore, while the mandate of the TIPH, namely normalization of civil and economic life in Hebron, is a long-term aspiration, it was created as a temporary body with a mandate to be renewed every three months. In addition its members rotate every six to eighteen months. This leads to “inadequate planning and a lack of institutional memory.”
On 26 March 2002 two observers, Catherine Berruex and Turgut Cengiz Toytunç were killed by two gunmen. An Israeli military court found a Palestinian man guilty of the murders, in September, 2003. Israeli authorities said that three people were involved in the killing.
On 8 February 2006 following an attack on their headquarters by rioting Palestinians, all TIPH observers were temporarily withdrawn from Hebron. TIPH members began to resume their duties in April 2006.