Hebron, Sansana, South Hebron Hills, Thu 20.11.08, Morning
On the Israeli side of the parking lots, many workers await transportation. The Palestinian side is empty.Four tracks wait downloading on the Palestinian side.
Once more, we marvel at how simple it is to get out of Samo'a now. It should be worthwhile to obtain information regarding the amounts of money invested by the army in dismantling roads and then, rebuilding them (as done here).
Dura Alfawwar – Open. Lively traffic at the crossing. Many children walk alongside the roads to their schools.
During our shift, we enountered a police patrol, constantly on the move between the Patriarchs' Tomb cave and Tel Rumeida, about four or five times. The police is reinforcing itself here.
No children queuing at Tel Rumeida and we assume this is because the soldiers don't really check.
The soldiers on duty at post talk of some Major-General's edict. They can't really explain what it is or what it says and are not adamant that we may not go up. We walk uphill and talk to some policemen sitting in a police vehicle. It turns out that there's an edict prohibiting Israelis entry to H1 territory. Issa's house seems quiet. Some of the olive trees have not been harvested.
Next to the stairs of the Cordoba school, a soldier says something about an edict, too. He, too, does not really know what it means, and we distance ourselves from him, too, while explaining why he can't detain us.
We walk along the deserted Shuhada St. Close by the entrance to the Company (perhaps some military base? tran.), a second lieutenant approaches us and orders us to leave. We explain that we're not under his command, and that if he wishes to talk to us, he should be polite. The interaction goes on along very unpleasant lines. He is young, hard-pressed, and fresh, demanding once more that we leave the place. As soon as I take my camera out, he gets into a military jeep and drives away. A woman with a pushchair gets into the base.
In the alley leading to the Shapira Neighborhood, a slanted-eyed worker sweeps the road (here, too, cleaners are foreign laborers?)
At the Borders police position, next to the Patriarchs' Tomb Cave, the soldiers attempt to hold us up. They, too, have something to say of some mysterious Major-General's edict. One of the soldiers seems especially young and his tongue slips… "entry is prohibited to leftists" he says. I ask to record him saying that. He's confused. Seems hard pressed. As it turns out, the boy/soldier doesn't even know the difference between H1 and H2. We enquire as to how he's willing to be positioned here, if he doesn't have a clue as to where it is, what he does here and what's it all about. He seems very confused and the soldier with him tried to explain his slip, while calming him down.
We continue our walk. At the next store, a merchant complains of the economic situation. He says that the settlers threaten and frighten away the few tourists that still come to this area, telling them that if they buy from him, their money will end up with the Hamas. He also complains of the music from the Gutnik House which, indeed, is practically deafening today.
Three busloads of tourists, apparently American, park close by and we see tens of them coming out of the cave.
At the Patriarchs' Tomb cave CP, a borders' policeman detains two Palestinians. Men of about 45-50yrs. He calls at them "Shabab" (Arabic for wild/unruly young men…). I tell him what this term means and he accepts. Documents are taken for a check up. 15min. later, one of the men despairs and simply starts walking away. The soldier calls after him. Both soldiers are now excited and start shouting at him to stop. I wonder to myself, what would happen if all Palestinians whose documents are taken would simply leave the CP, abandoning their identity. The soldiers keep calling him, and one of them already seems to be asking, almost begging, trying to persuade him that he has good reason to stay put, wait. The Palestinian accommodates. Two minutes later, the two documents are handed back to their owners and the two men leave the place.
Two cement-mixers of Safir&Co. stop next to us. The drivers, Israeli-Arabs, ask for directions to Tel Rumeida. We explain the route, and say something about it being a pity that they help Jews strengthen the settlement in the city at the expense of their co-patriots. They dismiss us with a hand-wave, saying 'what can we do? One needs to earn a living' and go on.
All the stores on the way up, to the House of Dispute are shut. Palestinians are apparently anxious to come here, and they know why. During the night, some settlers have gone wild next to the House of Dispute. They injured a soldier (spilling some turpentine on him) and punctured the wheels of a police car. Just in case you wondered – no, there are no detainees.
Around the House of Dispute itself, all seems as usual. Some boys at the entry. Six military vehicles and a few tens of soldiers (mostly borders' police) stand close by the building. Everything seems rather relaxed. Some more tombstones were desecrated and painted with graffiti at the local cemetery. On the wall of the mosque near-by, a few stars of David and some words were sprayed. When we arrive there, it's already difficult to discern what's written, as the soldiers are busy painting the well. The settlers ruin, and the soldiers repair. One wonders who pays for the work and the working materials.
We meet Ronnie (commander of the local border police) and an officer, Moshe (civil admin.), who speak to us. We ask about the devastation of the place. They say that by the time their forces arrived tonight, it was already too late to do anything (and of course, we never thought otherwise…). They don't seem too excited or disturbed and there's not much action in the area. No one considers taking advantage of the cameras already positioned on top of the house – apparently, those are only capable of photographing stone-throwing Palestinians(…)
We leave, not having sensed how dangerous or exceptionally tense the place really is, certainly not that it is due to be evicted anytime soon, nor that any of the settlers would be made to pay a price for the havoc and ruin they created there.
Close by the House of Dispute, the windows of some Palestinian-owned houses have been broken. We are asked into one of them – the Jaber family's home. In the children's room, facing the road, glass is broken in several places, still strewn all over the floor. The stones thrown are also still in place. Damage is extensive. We document and even contact Yesh Din (an Israeli civil rights organization: literally "Law obtains"). The Palestinians reported that the police had arrived two hours after being contacted but neither complaints nor testimony were taken or filed. They seem despaired and it seems as if nothing will now affect them to go to the police, to file a complaint. Why bother? Clearly, nothing will be done about it anyway.
We've come to this village following a report on some events that took place there on Saturday. Despite this delay, we are happily greeted by Jamal. He tells us what happened there the previous weekend.
Three farmers from Tubah (village) went out with their herds, escorted by two CPT volunteers. Fifteen masked settlers approached them, from the hill of Ma'on. They beat them up and threw stones at them. Some of them were equipped with knives and they stabbed one of the volunteers and a donkey. The other donkey was taken away, only to be found dead in one of the near-by wadis (valleys) a few hours later.
The police arrived two or three hours after the event, although they were contacted during the event itself. Obviously, nothing was done. Soldiers and policemen pretended to be searching the culprits or the knife but ultimately, there are no suspects and no detainees. Although the volunteers have some documentation and although testimony was taken, nothing happened and all of the youngsters involved are still free.
The settlers are becoming increasingly daring. The law does not seem to apply to them, and they feel free to do as they wish. Jamal is sorry that not enough Israelis come around and even asked for our help in this regard.