Dec 30 -- Hebron tour/Breaking the Silence

Trip Start Dec 26, 2005
Trip End Jan 12, 2006

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Friday, December 30, 2005

Yehuda, who presented "Breaking the Silence" to us in Tel Aviv a few days ago, took us on a tour of H2 in Hebron. H2 is the portion under Israeli control, as opposed to H1 which is under Palestinian control (at least nominally, since the IDF can enter it if necessary as it sees fit). Again, there are Israeli settlements in both sections and Palestinians live in both sections.

Those Pal'es who live in H2 are of course severely restricted, and suffer greatly at the whim of settlers. We saw a videotape taken by a Palestinian that showed three cases of settler mobs who invaded neighboring Palestinian homes: breaking down gates, doors, and windows to gain entry, and trashing the houses while its inhabitants were still inside. The Palestinian who showed us the videotape must take a circuitous path through neighboring yards and over walls to gain access to the street, where he must walk to the market to get everything the family needs since Pal'es cannot drive vehicles on the adjacent roads since they are labeled "sterile" (more on that, later) by the IDF.

Getting back to Yehuda's tour again, he explained how the Pal'es were slowly but surely more and more restricted in what they could do and where they could go within H2. Shops owned by Pal'es were sometimes invaded by soldiers -- or even just arbitrarily partially trashed by soldiers. When settlers themselves went on rampages in reaction to an incident triggered by a Pal'e, they were protected from Pal'e reaction by soldiers.

At one place, while Yehuda was describing what had been an expanse of Pal'e shops but was now a field of rubble, the delegation was stoned by some Settler boys hiding behind a garage on a hillside. When Yehuda called the police to report the stoning, they finally showed up but did nothing to stop the stones: only talking to Yehuda to ask how long the delegation would be there, where we would be going, and other such small talk.

The police knew him well, as did at least a few settlers who made nasty comments as they drove by. Recall that Yehuda himself had been a soldier stationed in Hebron; the settlers really hate him for his role in Breaking the Silence.

Especially telling about the plight of Pal'es is the idea of "sterile" roads. These are roads on which Pal'es are not allowed to drive. They can walk on it -- sometimes however only up to a specific point.

Roads can become sterile only if requested by the military; the courts usually comply with the request. But one specific case stands out. It turns out that one particular road had been declared sterile by the military but no court order was filed. Pal'es took the case to court. First the military filed a belated request, but when Pale's took even this case to court, the military -- expecting to lose the case -- withdrew the order and filed another document. This second document began by admitting that the original decree of "sterile" was indeed illegal, and they would certainly remove that declaration. Then the next paragraph requested a special ruling that governed the few houses near the intersection that road with another one, asking that the road would be sterile near those houses! This was agreed to by the court. So the rest of the road was not sterile, but the only access to it was sterile. Neat, eh?

At this point I have to ask you that if there is something funny about the above text, it's "explained" by something that just happened to this computer in an internet cafe. I'm too tired to go over it.

At any rate, since the above text is rather brief, I'll say something about this FFIPP delegation. Most of us are from U.S. Others are from Italy (1), Geneva Switzerland (2), France (but a Palestinian as well) (1), England (but former Israeli) (1). Most are faculty with a few spouses, a few students with varying degrees of real and formal (as in the case of merely doing research for political policy papers) interest. More later.
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