June 01, 2007


What I saw today in Hebron is quite surrealistic and I'll try to convey it to you. I plan to go back in order to take some pictures and post them here.

I didn't see any violence but I saw the effects of the security measures taken by the Israeli army to protect the 800 Jewish settlers of Hebron, and I got some explanations as well as testimonies/videos of violence and humiliation by the settlers on the Palestinian population.

My information comes from our guide, a member of the Shovrim Shtika (Breaking the silence) organization, operating jointly with a political group called Bnei Avraham.

Basically, Hebron was a Palestinian city of 166,000, in the heart of which 800 Jews have settled. Today, what I saw was that 20 % of the city, including it's Casbah, it's meat and clothing markets, it's main souk, it's central Bus and Taxi station, were shut down to car traffic, business and even many vital streets were closed to Palestinian pedestrians.

Because of the 800 Jews and in the name of their security, 35,000 Palestinians of this H-2 area (see the map in English and the map in Hebrew with the legend) have had their lives disrupted and only a small fraction have been able to stay.

An estimated 42 % of the buildings of the H-2 area are empty, which reflects less than the number of Palestinians who left: many families left and their houses were reoccupied by poorer, unemployed Palestinians because they don't pay any rent there.

I estimate therefore that for every Jew there, about 20 Palestinians were forced to leave. By "forced" I mean that the conditions made it unrealistic for anyone to stay (no business, no car traffic, no pedestrian traffic on some streets including potentially the one on which your front door lies, frequent curfew, etc.) See the following video of the Btselem organization for an example of what it means not being able to leave and enter your house from the front door.

Had there been no violence from the Palestinians on the settlers, would there not have been these drastic measures impinging on the human rights of the Palestinians? The point of our guide was that this question is not relevant: if the price to pay to protect 800 Jews there is to impinge upon the human rights of people so frequently and so dramatically (I've seen only the empty city, I have to imagine the daily humiliations and violence of the army and the settlers on the Palestinians based on the videos), then the army shouldn't protect them.

More soon.

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