To Major General (Res.) Ehud Barak
Minister of Defense
You have promised the removal of blockages in order to relieve the Palestinians' "life fabric" in the West Bank. Not one checkpoint has been dismantled, not one earth-mound removed. Barriers have been added, more concrete walls, more metal gates.
In the sweep of the pendulum between human rights and security - every barrier you add reduces security and contributes to growing hatred and violence. You are responsible for the symbiosis generated between all security forces in this area and the Jewish settlers. You are responsible for violating the Palestinians' human rights. You bear the responsibility for the separation/apartheid policy practiced in Hebron - that constantly grants more rights to the settlers and reduces the rights of Palestinians. Is this the right way to fight terrorism, or is this the surest way to preserve terrorism as a stabilizing factor in our region?
The gap dissonance between your declarations and their implementation on the ground enhances frustration and mistrust. Let us not forget that the land we came to had not been empty, and that we have all been created in God's image. Disregarding the lives and dignity of Palestinians deprives Zionism of its moral significance, its values and humaneness. Where are we going with this? (Southern West Bank, 6.5)
Near the concrete slabs marking the edge of the H2 area, behind the Jewish cemetery, another flying (temporary) checkpoint has been posted. The lieutenant stands there, pointing his rifle beside a stone wall, behind him in the background laundry hangs to dry next to a house still inhabited by Palestinians. Opposite on the entrance steps to a house, another soldier stands with a pointed gun, and on both sides of the road, another four soldiers. All of this is seen about 300 meters above the Tel Romeida Checkpoint, where Palestinians would be inspected again in any case. Why has another checkpoint been posted here? The commander's answer: "From here to Tel Romeida Checkpoint they might still manage to carry out a terrorist attack."
Against whom? Their own neighbors? This is a Palestinian neighborhood, containing not a single Jew. So why the checkpoint, if not to show who's in charge?!
And who passes through there? A old blind man, groping along, youngsters and the elderly who are required by the soldiers to open their coats, lift them, turn a pirouette. Some of them are held against the concrete wall, and with the rifle, they are urged to splay open their legs, as the insides of their thighs are tap-searched. (Tel Romeida, Hebron, 1.4)
Suddenly a horrible surge of noise rises from the loudspeakers posed on the roof of the building containing the settlers' snack and souvenir shop: "Hebron is ours, by right of our forefathers, Hebron belongs to the Jewish People, Hebron is mine, Hebron, the Holy City was given to the Holy People by the Lord Almighty." The Palestinians in their own souvenir shop across the street say this noise drives them crazy all day long and all night. We asked for the volume to be lowered.
Out of the snack shop comes a man who turns into a bully on the spot, identifies himself as Ofer Ohana, sticks a video camera in my face, claims he holds a journalist card, swears at us. He calls out to the youths gathering around us to pray for our deaths. The souvenir shopkeeper, turning into a bully as well, begins to shout aggressively, "Traitors" and the like. "I served in the army for four years, and I know you are a security hazard." More passers-by add their own two bits. Border Patrol men look on and do nothing. A brave policeman arrives and the settlers charge at him as well, swearing, pushing and threatening. A police car with more policemen arrives, one of them takes out a video camera - the only item that deters the bullies who try to avoid being photographed.
An older man informs us we've "always been whores", a boy suggests that my son should marry an Arab woman, a youngster wearing a large white skullcap goes berserk and confronts policemen, while the first two bullies continue to yell, swearing and threatening: "When we take over, we'll hang you from a high tree like Haman", "You shame us in front of the Palestinians", "You are a disgrace to your family".
The Border Patrol's usual solution: To remove us rather than our assailants from the public area into the nearby police station to lodge a complaint. At the end of the procedure, the interrogator tells us she receives letters from the local settlers addressed to "Mrs. Eichmann". (Cave of the Fathers, Hebron, 6.4)
Ofer Ohana invites us again to live on Traitors Street no. 9. He explains to the Border Patrolmen that if a Palestinian stabs soldiers we would dance over their blood. (Hebron, 17.4)
At the gate between Hebron and Kiryat Arba, the guard asks to see our driver's ID. At this point, Ofer Ohana stands in front of the vehicle to block it from moving. The gate is closed, as well. We get out of the car and ask the policeman to move the people and let us through. The policeman explains to the guard that we are with him, but at this point about 50 settlers, most of them men, boys and little children crowd around. The vehicle becomes a target. Spitting, rocking the car, yelling, threatening, swearing.
Outside, six policemen and some soldiers are pacing around but none of them does anything to prevent damage to the car or check the escalating violence. Another police car arrives, bringing another three policemen on the scene. The policeman driving it hugs one of the settlers and the riot outside continues. Someone lets the air out of our back tire, and some minutes later, someone else punctures the front tire with a knife.
A policeman is pushed and hit by a group of 5-6 settlers. No one does a thing to open the gate, take charge of the situation and enable us to move on. Instead, after over half an hour, one of the policemen joins us inside the car and we are told to reach the police station. We are all detained for having participated in an illegal gathering.
On two punctured tires we ascend towards the police station. While inside the car, we don't see any of the policemen actually taking matters seriously. The boys who hit policemen have not been detained, and the police have not done a thing to document the crowding and violence that had taken place. The policemen were afraid to confront the settlers and preferred to stay inside their station. It is saddening to witness the helplessness and feel - first hand - the flagrant symbiosis between the security forces and the settlers. (Hebron, 25.4)