Hebron, South Hebron Hills, Wed 16.1.13, Morning
Translator: Charles K.
It’s 11:30; we’ve just gone through the Meitar checkpoint. No laborers crossing at this hour.
When we reach the Dura-Al Fawwar junction we see a Palestinian vehicles whose occupants are standing outside the car, being detained by two soldiers who are apparently reservists. We decide to stop off to the side to understand what’s happening. The soldier across the way waves to us to move from the road’s shoulder, and when he approaches he explains we’re not allowed to remain there because we’re a disturbance. Since the two detainees were released and drove off, we didn’t stay. The road is quiet, almost no traffic.
Preparations are underway to erect a new army base on the imposing road between the Nofey Mamreh neighborhood and Kiryat Arba, just before the Harsina army base. Federman’s farm sits in the valley below; work seems to have begun again there. A road has been paved to the farm with a gate of barrels in which Washington palms have been planted decoratively on either side. Diagonally across the road there’s already a new guard booth. An army camouflage net is spread over it, indicating what it’s for.
That’s how it goes in Hebron: first the settlers are allowed to create facts on the ground, then they must be protected, so everyone who lives nearby and isn’t a settler has their movements restricted.
No indication of any changes at Beit HaMeriva, no unusual activity, even though the radio reported plans to re-occupy it.
We decide to visit our friend who lives opposite Beit HaMeriva. We speak with him, hear the latest news. He tells us that people came to him from the DCO regarding the building permit for his second storey, and he expects to receive a final answer any day now. He also tells us about many people who marched yesterday: about 120 settlers and their supporters stood outside Beit HaMeriva yelling that it belongs to them.
Later other people tells us that the march continued toward the Cave of the Patriarchs and reached Beit HaMachpelah, which is located between two elementary schools, Al Fayha and Al Ibrahamiyya, where the marchers shouted the same slogans. The locals said that in both places the police and the army controlled what was going on and prevented the settlers and their supporters from advancing. It’s interesting there were no media reports.
Michal and I decided to walk over to see the fence that had been erected two months ago. It separates settlers using the worshippers route from residents of the Palestinian neighborhood. But a soldier stops us – he’s stationed at a new emplacement that was added recently. He asks, of course, where we’ve come from and tells us – while speaking over his radio –that we’re not allowed through because it might be dangerous.
We explain that we’re aware of the danger and that our driver will meet us at the other end. The soldier insists, explaining to the person he’s talking to on the radio that Jews are involved. Nevertheless, says the voice over the radio, the road is dangerous because part of it isn’t secured and we might be harmed. We decide to return.
Later I notice a settler walking on that same “dangerous” road. There’s no doubt that “only authorized persons” are immune to harm, and that Jews like us aren’t permitted through. More proof that the settlers run the army rather than the other way around like it should be.
The atmosphere is very tense, as usual, but unlike previous visits there are many children in the street, apparently because of winter vacation. We also ran into many foreign groups touring the area with guides. And, of course, the upcoming election puts everyone on edge.