Hebron, South Hebron Hills, Sun 22.5.11, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
No workers in the fenced corridor leading to the inspection area. The parking lot on the Israel side also appears almost empty, a sign that the workers are crossing quickly and smoothly even though it’s the first day of the week. Relatives of prisoners gather in the inspection shed, two buses awaiting them on the Israeli side.
The road is almost empty at this hour, all checkpoints are open and there’s no military presence in the area.
Kiryat Arba is quiet, apparently recovering from yesterday’s bonfires (Jewish holiday of Lag Ba'omer). Two soldiers guard the entrance to the worshippers’ route. Curve 160 – new colorful graffiti greets us: “Welcome to Hebron, City of the Patriarchs.” The pillbox is also decorated; the soldiers claim they did it themselves. “Exit only” is written in English on the yellow barrier. The Cave of the Patriarchs area is quiet. We entered the area of the wholesale market; Leah photographed the contents of the abandoned rooms. We found the smoking remains of a bonfire that had nothing combustible nearby. A few remains of bonfires were visible along Shuhada Street, but what particularly caught our eye were signs for the children’s Lag Ba’Omer parade. They were apparently waiting for it at home. Along Shuhada Street graffiti slogans in a colorful American style sometimes covered earlier drawings and slogans. Did followers of Rabbi Nach Nach (Nachman of Bracelow) come to decorate the city?
At the top of Shuhada Street there’s a Giv’ati soldier who doesn’t know about our organization, even though he was inducted in March, 2009, and said he went through training to serve in Hebron. He started talking to us, but was primarily interested in attacking what we were saying, and finally told us we’d been brainwashed. He told us of a tense incident yesterday, about Palestinian children who beat a young, innocent settler. While we were talking he refused to allow TIPH observers to reach the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. We met another pair of observers opposite the Cave of the Patriarchs and asked whether the army restricts their entry to any locations. They said they have the right to go everywhere but sometimes the commander on site stops them.
On our way back we found four youths detained at Curve 160 – they looked to be about 15-18. Each one was sent to sit by himself at a different corner of the junction. When we asked the Border Police soldiers, they said the youths had been fresh or interfered with their work. One’s offense was that he didn’t have an ID, or had forgotten it at home. While we were talking to one of the detainees the soldiers turned him into a prisoner instead of a detainee. Perhaps our active participation in the incident, and our attempt to find out what was going on, made things worse. An armored army jeep suddenly appeared along with a Border Police vehicle and a police jeep; they and the checkpoint guards spoke off to one side, and finally each vehicle took one of the detainees to the police station. The soldiers at the checkpoint explained that the youths will be interrogated, spend a day in jail and then be released. Their computer record will also apparently have a blot on it that will be extremely difficult to erase. Is that how youths are taught to love Israel?
The way back was smooth and fast. Things didn’t seem particularly tense.