Since 2001 we have observed dozens of army checkpoints on paved and unpaved roads in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and along the Separation Fence; Civil Administration offices which grant permits to Palestinians; and military courts trying Palestinian prisoners. We stand at the checkpoints observing the behavior of soldiers and Palestinians without interfering, intervening only when soldiers behave offensively to Palestinians. Then we try to speak to the soldiers themselves or telephone...
Hebron, Mon 2.4.12, Morning
According to Wye Plantation Accords (1997), Hebron is divided in two: H1 is under Palestinian Authority control, H2 is under Israeli control. In Hebron there are 170,000 Palestinian citizens, 60,000 of them in H2. Between the two areas are permanent checkpoints, manned at all hours, preventing Palestinian movement between them and controlling passage of permit holders such as teachers and schoolchildren. Some 800 Jews live in Avraham Avinu Quarter and Tel Rumeida, on Givat HaAvot and in the wholesale market.
Checkpoints observed in H2:
- Bet Hameriva CP- manned with a pillbox
- Kapisha quarter CP (the northern side of Zion axis) - manned with a pillbox
- The 160 turn CP (the southern side of Zion axis) - manned with a pillbox
- Avraham Avinu quarter - watch station
- The pharmacy CP - checking inside a caravan with a magnometer
- Tarpat (1929) CP - checking inside a caravan with a magnometer
- Tel Rumeida CP - guarding station
- Beit Hadassah CP - guarding station
Three checkpoints around the Tomb of the Patriarchs
Translator: Charles K.
We were there this morning, at the new bone of contention, where they’ve already trademarked themselves as the Beit HaMachpelah settlers. The steps to the Cave of the Patriarchs are in fact directly across the way, at the end of the large plaza bordered on each side by schools – one for boys and one for girls.
The entire area has been closed by the army. The building they invaded is next to the school for girls, access to which is, in any case, via the Pharmacy checkpoint. The building will become another walled-off fortress in the heart of the Palestinians’ daily lives, denying the schoolchildren and the remaining local residents any possibility of a normal existence.
The building was sold to the settlers by A.A.R., who’s currently jailed in Ramallah. The settlers living in the building are all law-abiding; none of them has been arrested or removed. On the other hand, Palestinians and peace activists who tried last night to invade a building– which may have also been sold by now – next to Beit Romano were arrested, of course. The building could become in a flash a focus of a conflagration whose outcome no one can forsee.
The entire area is bubbling. The Palestinians living there are worried what will happen. Peace organizations and journalists from around the world are there taking photographs. The army and police move barriers from place to place, trying to give the impression that somebody knows what they’re doing. As for us – we’re overcome by shame.
We alerted people from B’Tselem; they distributed cameras to the neighbors. We spoke with people, talked to the army and police trying to find out what was happening, what will happen, why they’re dumping earth in the plaza. Their responses were evasive. “The only people who may enter the building,” they explain, “are those who appear on the list of the policeman stationed there.” But in fact people enter constantly. Now a woman, now children, now more adults. All the security personnel wait for us to stop photographing and leave. They explain that everything’s legal, they only need the teeny permission of the Minister of Defense. “Legal,” I tell him, “But immoral.” “Why immoral?,” the soldier asks. He doesn’t understand at all what I’m talking about.
Nevertheless, we were able to take photographs from certain angles. It’s really very near the Cave of the Patriarchs, but even closer to schools, to the route so many children take each morning.
Later, on the radio, we hear the young Levinger who organized the whole thing. He says that about 60 people are in the building. He doesn’t understand why the army demands they leave by tomorrow afternoon. What did they do that was so terrible? All they did was buy a place to live, and now they’re not being allowed to do so.
This Cossack compares what he did to someone who innocently wants to move into a home they bought and isn’t being allowed to do so because they’re disturbing the peace. “Who ever heard of such a thing?!” he asks. The Minister of Education and Aryeh Eldad are also irate, and no tells them what they ought to hear: This isn’t an innocent real estate transaction. That’s no comparison to what happened here. It’s another attempt to force people from their homes. It’s another attempt to embitter the lives of the residents so they’ll leave and be replaced by settlers, in the full knowledge that as soon as settlers move in, additional guard posts will be installed, another checkpoint, more inspections right at the entrance to the school, making it impossible to hold classes there at all. What do the authorities expect the other inhabitants of Hebron to do?! How can you describe this as “people bought a house and aren’t being permitted to live in it”? How can you compare what happened here to a person’s innocent wish to live peacefully with their neighbors?! Is there no limit to disingenuousness and cynicism?
Someone has to wake our politicians and shout: the Hebron settlers are more dangerous to Israel than Ahmadinejad.