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Last Updated: 12/08/2004Hebron: a typical cauldron
Some recent press reports have been suggesting recently that peace in Israel/Palestine is a real prospect in the not-so-distant future. Am Johal, now back in Canada, reflects on how tense the situation is in Hebron, and measures the problems there against those of the whole of Israel/Palestine.
A few months ago walking along
Al-Shuhada street in Hebron on a Saturday morning, it was the Mizrahi Jew among
us who was asked to stand against the wall and be patted down by security
forces. It didn’t take long to be
asked for our ID. Not far from
there, a lineup of Palestinians was standing by a makeshift checkpoint across
the road from the
They may not call it Apartheid, but it sure looks a lot like it.
Here, people talk about the "the land of our people," divine right and promised lands rather than peace or international law. It is the language that reigns here.
It's a simulated reality - as if one is walking on a film set. It lacks authenticity, the kind of boisterous street life that should come naturally to a community and a city where life is normal.
In 2002 the Israeli army fenced
There are now plans to seize
Palestinian rooftops and set up a new regulatory and permitting regime for
residents of the
The Christian Peacemaker Team, part of the official Temporary International Presence in Hebron, which has monitored the situation in Area H-2 since 1995 and have had some of their team on the receiving end of beatings while escorting Palestinians students to school concluded in a report, "Through the combined weight of Israeli settler violence, curfews, checkpoints and walling in the Old City, the two parts of Hebron are now almost completely separate...they [the Israeli government and settlers] want all of the Old City to be 'the Jewish City of Hebron.'"
The extended periods of curfew
have decimated the economy resulting in 2,500 small businesses closing down in
Over 5,000 workers lost their
jobs, thousands left
4,000 Israeli soldiers are
required to protect the 500 settlers in the four Israeli settlements in
The written history of
In the 1920's following waves of
Jewish immigration after the First and Second Aliyahs, rumours reached
In 1968, following the 1967
Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a group of thirty Israeli
Jews pretending to be tourists celebrated Passover at the Park Hotel in downtown
Only one member of the previous Jewish community supported the establishment of the new fundamentalist settlement which was distinct from the original Jewish presence in the City.
In 1983, individuals affiliated
with Gush Emunim carried out an attack against an Islamic college in
Rabbi Moshe Levinger, who
initiated the first settlement in
In 1994, Dr. Baruch Goldstein, a
Although there was no evidence that Kach was involved in the attack, both they and Kahane Chai were designated as terrorist organizations and had their offices closed.
In 1995, Yitzhak Rabin made
overtures to dismantle the settlements in
Israel, even since the Oslo
Accords, have applied four different methods of land seizure in the Occupied
Territories according to the Alternative Information Center report, "Occupation
in Hebron,": the seizure of land for military needs, the designation of land as
'state land,' the designation of land as 'absentee property,' and expropriation
of land for 'public needs.' Since
Since the Israeli Occupation in
including the imposition of curfews and home demolitions.
What is perhaps most revealing is
the settlers preferential status before the law. Palestinians living in the
In 2002, extremists in Islamic
Jihad killed nine Israeli soldiers in Kiryat Arba. Ariel Sharon, known as the father of the
settlements, responded with a plan to build a wall and to reduce the
Palestinians in the Israeli controlled section of
What to do - suffer the daily humiliations of checkpoints, of harassment, of not being allowed to walk across the street, of having your freedom taken away and then to endure the responses of the military when one of your own resorts to violence.
This is the Palestinian dilemma.
Desperate, helpless, unable to act. This kind of collective punishment is dehumanizing for those who want a just peace.
There won't be peace between the
Israelis and the Palestinians until there is peace in places like