By Symi Rom-Rymer
Three thin little black books have been creating a firestorm of controversy in Israel recently. No, they have nothing to do sex scandals. Rather, they are publications from Breaking the Silence (BTS), an Israeli human rights group founded by four former Israeli Defense Force (IDF) soldiers. Their objective is to collect and publish testimony from soldiers who served in the Palestinian Territories between 2001 and 2004. So far, they have recorded the experiences of 700 soldiers, documenting many harsh, even brutal actions taken by the IDF in the Palestinian Territories.
On the eve of her first US tour, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dana Golan, the 27 year-old Executive Director of Breaking the Silence. Below is an excerpt from our discussion. Continue reading
by Jeremy Gillick
Settlers in Hebron
Much of the West Bank is in turmoil following this morning’s highly anticipated evacuation of the Orwellian “House of Peace” in Hebron. Though the evacuation itself was a success, as Israel’s security forces took several hundred settlers holed up in the controversial house by surprise, removing them all within half an hour, it didn’t take long for things to get ugly.
According to Ynet, “Sources in the settler public announced the launching of a ‘price tag’ policy that will be implemented through stone throwing and attacks on Palestinian houses.” Associated with a growing fringe of Jewish settlers known as the “hilltop youth,” the “price tag” policy mandates acts of low-level violence against Palestinians and Israeli security forces in response to the dismantling of settlements and outposts in the West Bank. According to a recent report on rising settler violence by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, retaliation often includes “blocking traffic, setting fields on fire, [and] throwing rocks.”
The price tag for evicting settlers from Hebron, though, is a bit higher than usual. According to an article titled “Settlers Rampage in Palestinian areas after Hebron Eviction” in Ha’aretz, “The Israeli rights group B’Tselem released video that appeared to show a settler shooting a Palestinian in the stomach from point-blank range, and Palestinians pelting the settler with rocks.” Continue reading
Posted in Politics, religion
Tagged Beit HaShalom, Ehud Olmert, Hebron, hilltop youth, House of Contention, House of Peace, Israel, jewish, Palestine, Settlers, violence, West Bank
By Jeremy Gillick
There is an interesting drama developing around one of the West Bank’s most radical and controversial Jewish settlements. Home to the Ma’arat HaMachpelah—the Tomb of the Patriarchs—Hebron is a sacred cow for Israel’s religious right (read Glenn Frankel’s January story about Hebron in Moment here). Unlike most settlements, which stand on hills above Palestinian cities, the Jewish settlement in Hebron exists in the city’s very heart, protected vigilantly by the Israeli army. Although there’s no talk of dismembering the settlement altogether, much less of dismantling all the settlements, which, as both Shimon Peres and Shin Bet security chief Yuval Diskin have recently warned, could precipitate a civil war, Israeli security forces are threatening to evacuate a group of settlers from a building they occupied illegally in Hebron over a year ago. The settlers are fighting back.
On March 19, 2007, hundreds of settlers from both Hebron and Kiryat Arba, the larger but equally radical settlement above Hebron, moved into a 4-story, 3,500 square foot building on the road linking Hebron to Kiryat Arba. According to the settlement’s official Hebron website, “The building was purchased from its previous owner via an office in Jordan for an approximate price of $700,000. The previous owner transferred all his legal rights to the building to the Hebron Jewish community.” As it turned out, the documents “proving” Jewish ownership were forged, and this past Sunday, Israel’s High Court gave the building’s occupants until Wednesday to leave.
By last night, they had not budged. And although the Defense Ministry chose not to use force, yet, presumably not wishing on themselves a repeat of Amona’s 2006 evacuation, it seems unlikely that the settlers will move without some prodding. Continue reading
Posted in Politics, religion
Tagged Amona, Beit HaShalom, Hebron, House of Peace, Israel, Israel High Court, jewish, Kiryat Arba, Rabbi Dov Lior, Settlements, Shimon Peres, West Bank, Yuval Diskin