In Hebron

Hebron is the only Palestinian city outside Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank where Israeli settlers are living in the midst of a Palestinian population. It is not a situation where good neighborliness abounds.

Yes, there was a Jewish community in Hebron which became victim to enraged Palestinian mobs in 1929, and a horrible massacre was perpetrated there [it also has to be said that some Palestinian families sheltered and saved their Jewish neighbors during the sudden attacks], and the Jewish community was evacuated.

Settlers returned there in the 1980s, in an extremely belligerent presence. The ugliness of relations has been documented by numerous photographs, videos, news reports and eyewitness accounts — including from members of the serving Israeli Defense Forces, who were themselves appalled at the aggression of Jewish settlers, and the casual complicity of some of the young Israeli soldiers, against the Palestinian population.

In February 1994, an American-Israeli settler living in Kiryat Arba just above downtown Hebron went, wearing his Israeli Army reserve uniform and carrying his rifle, into the immensely important Ibrahimi Mosque [built to enclose the tomb of  the Patriarch Abraham, who is revered by both Jews and Muslims as the first prophet of their monotheistic religions], and killed 29 Palestinian worshippers at dawn prayers during Ramadan.  The murderer was killed on the spot, and his tomb in Kiryat Arba has become a focus of some celebratory pilgrimage for national-religious extremists.  Since then, the Ibrahimi Mosque has been divided under schedules and demarcations that are totally under control of the Israeli military.  Muslims are excluded for a day or more at a time, during certain  Jewish holidays.

The Jewish settler presence in downtown Hebron was accepted a few years later by the late Yasser Arafat in negotiations with Benyamin Netanyahu that were brokered by U.S. President Bill Clinton in the Wye River Accords, part of the Oslo process, which divided the Old City of Hebron into two areas [H1 + H2].

Because of the terrible relations that ensued, a group of countries has created a Temporary International Presence in Hebron [TIPH] with international monitors [most with policing or legal experience] who drive around in marked white cars with distinctive vests, and make purely internal periodic reports about the continuing tension.

And, there is a Christian Peacemaker Team [CPT] of volunteers living in the area of worst tension in Hebron, the Old City.

The CPT has Tweeted a photo album of what they have witnessed — these photos were taken in the last 3 to 4 months [the whole series can be viewed here

Hebron - soldiers + settler security outside Palestinian shops in Old City

Continue reading In Hebron