Thousands of Settlers from Near and Far in Occupied Al-Khalil
The weekend of 25th and 26th of November 2016 in Al-Khalil, which Israel calls Hebron, brought thousands of extremist Jews and settlers from all over Israel and abroad to celebrate the week’s Torah study on Chayei Sara (Life of Sarah), where Abraham purchases the cave of Machpelah (of which they think is in al-Khalil) in order to bury his wife Sarah.
This automatically meant more Israeli Occupation Forces, more border police, and generally more “security” at checkpoints that Palestinians need to pass through on a regular basis as part of their normal daily routines (going to work, shopping, etc.) It also meant a complete closure of many of the checkpoints, not allowing anyone who was not here for the festival to go through.
One Palestinian family in the Tel Rumeida area had their home invaded for approximately 10 hours by soldiers who set up observation on the roof and using their bathroom and kitchen as if it were their own place to do as they wished. An international who was invited to the home by the family to observe the goings on was forced to leave after an hour by the soldiers. The family was frightened by these events, but as far as we know, there was no real damage done in the home by the soldiers. An observer witnessed at least two Palestinian youth who were detained by the Israeli occupation forces for one reason or another. A third Palestinian was detained for trying to defend himself after a settler spit on him.
On Saturday “security” was at its peak. Every Saturday afternoon there is a tour of the Palestinian Old City by settlers from the illegal settlements. This usually consists of around 20 to 150 settlers with about as many Israeli occupation force soldiers to “protect” them. This weekend the tour consisted of nearly 2700 settlers. This obviously meant more soldiers, on roof tops, police dogs sniffing out the route before the tour began, soldiers positioned approximately every 50 meters along the entire route and at the beginning and end of the group.
The settlers who participated were singing, dancing, and acting aggressively towards the Palestinian shopkeepers and internationals who were observing the event. There were many shouts of “Welcome to Israel “ by the settlers as well as “bitch” and “Go to Syria. Here there is peace”. There were also many incidents of vandalism and theft of Palestinian shopkeepers merchandise such as drums, plates, scarves, and bags.
The soldiers did absolutely nothing to prevent the settlers or at least hold them accountable for their actions. On the other hand, nine settlers attacked a young Palestinian near his workplace, throwing a stone at his skull causing abrasions and bleeding. These settlers where taken by the soldiers, and it is unknown whether they were arrested or detained. All of these acts not only are against the law in a country that calls itself a democracy, but are also very much against the Torah, and the word of their G-d, their religion, and the reason that they have all gathered in Hebron. For the Palestinians, keeping their shops open demonstrates that they are alive and present there; that they will not give up the fight for their home.
For more about that weekend in Hebron see: