Hebron, Mon 7.5.12, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
Nothing unusual on Highway 60. The occupation routine, we told ourselves.
We expected another day of despair and continued our endless discussion about our activity in opposition to the occupation. Is there any point to it, have we done anyone any good.
Nothing prepared us for what happened next.
We were approaching Hebron when suddenly we saw a caravan: three Civil Administration vehicles, then a large tractor, then another, then three army jeeps.
Undoubtedly a demolition task force.
They turned left onto the road leading to the Kiryat Arba industrial zone, located at the southeastern outskirts of the city. There’s a gate. Once anyone could enter. Now vehicles or pedestrians who want to get to Hebron via the Jebel Jalis neighborhood can’t do so without permission, because this industrial zone keeps growing and spreading. Now there are industrial zone areas B and C, while people living among the satellites of this growth are “choking.”
The caravan proceeded – the gate was opened, of course. We took advantage of the opportunity and succeeded in entering at its tail end.
They drove up the hill while we ran after them on foot. We began to hear angry, despairing cries, and came very close to a crowd of everyone involved. “How did you already get here?” asked one of the Civil Administration officers, hurrying to photograph me photographing him.
The tractor and the energetic Civil Administration personnel approached a small, young orchard with a few vines, a few olive trees and some other fruit trees [serving a family or two who’ve lived there forever], uprooting, breaking, loading the trees on a wagon. The residents of the house yell, plead for them to stop, it’s their land, they have documents, a Border Police force guards those doing the work and prevents the people living in the house from bursting into the orchard. The young people yell and curse. The older ones try to quiet them down.
They seem to be afraid that things will get out of hand, that there will be arrests. The mothers physically block the way of the young people. A brave young woman approaches the soldier photographing and documenting the incident, trying to hurl his camera away. Soldiers push and beat people; the clash seems to close to exploding.
Two female soldiers who arrived stand at a distance, not daring to draw near.
The force commander, a Druze officer, tries to calm things down, prevent a violent confrontation. He seems to understand how serious the situation is. Maybe because of him, maybe because he understands their pain, no one is arrested. They curse him. They yell at him, with hatred and contempt, “ You’re Druze – aren’t you ashamed to work for the Israeli army?”
I ask one of the soldiers: Why this evil? How does this orchard endanger the state of Israel? People here want to live; why do we have to create more enemies? He looks at me: “Are you asking me?,” and walks away…
“Everyone here’s taking photos,” a soldier complains to the Palestinians’ cameras and to ours.
The army’s cameras don’t bother him.
Everything is boiling. The soldiers start to talk to each other, “What kind of army are we, why do we keep quiet,” but they’ve been ordered by their commander not to respond, to be quiet – more curses, more beating. The women are on the verge of collapse in their effort to contain the young people. The curses…I’m glad I understand only a little Arabic.
They finished uprooting and left.
The soldiers also begin to withdraw. The locals seem to have crumpled.
We called Mohand, from “Yesh Din.” We asked him to talk to the people, hear what they say. We gave one of them the phone. They’re talking. Mohand promises to get back to him.
The young people watch us. Some yell at us to leave with the others. People explain to them who we are; some are willing to talk to us.
We tried to convey our pain and our shame.
M., our driver, who waited some distance away, to be safe, heard the soldiers talking with one another. “Yallah, should we beat them up some more?”
Why do I have the feeling that over the next few nights the Shabak will come visiting, and people will be arrested?
I’m reminded of the tale of the vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezre’elite and King Ahab [First Kings, Chapter 21].
Our bible knew how to describe a regime’s villainy without embellishments.
And knew to ask, “Hast thou killed and also taken possession?”
That’s not in the book the settlers adhere to.
With heavy hearts we drove to Hebron.
Everything’s the same.
We went to the Cordova school to see how they are
The principal is happy to see us, tells us how successful was their trip to the biblical zoo. How the children enjoyed seeing the sea for the first time.
The young housemother again asks me for a Hebrew lesson. By the time our visit ended she’d learned a few words. To be continued.
We smiled a bit when we left.