woensdag 3 december 2008

Rellen in Hebron tussen kolonisten, het leger en Palestijnen

De spanningen tussen Palestijnen en Joden in Hebron, maar ook tussen de kolonisten en het leger, nemen verder toe. Het is vaak niet duidelijk wie begon: Palestijnen of kolonisten. Wat wel duidelijk is, is dat de radikale elementen binnen de laatsten zich ook tegen de staat en het leger keren en niet terugschrikken voor aanvallen op de soldaten die hun daar juist beschermen. Ook richten zij zich, al of niet uit wraak voor Palestijnse aanvallen, vaak op onschuldige burgers of religieuze plaatsen.
Hoewel de Joden zeker een gerechtvaardigde claim op Hebron hebben (tot zij in 1929 werden aangevallen door door de moefti opgehitste Arabieren was er een aanzienlijke Joodse gemeenschap in Hebron), en hun aartsvaderen er begraven liggen, lijkt de radikale gemeenschap van ca. 500 kolonisten tussen meer dan 50.000 hun vijandig gezinde Palestijnen niet te handhaven. Tot nu toe durft Israel het echter zelfs nog niet aan om een gebouw, Beith Hashalom, te ontruimen, en de kolonisten hebben al met een burgeroorlog gedreigd als dit toch gaat gebeuren.
The Jerusalem Post
Dec 1, 2008 22:30 | Updated Dec 2, 2008 18:47
Israeli youth seriously wounded by stone-throwers in Hebron
A fragile calm appeared to have returned to Hebron on Tuesday afternooon, after Palestinians and settlers clashed earlier in the day. An Israeli youth, who was hit in the head by a rock, was seriously injured in the scuffles. Some 1,500 right-wing activists had poured into the city Monday night on the heels of rumors that the police was preparing to evacuate Beit Hashalom.

Security forces arrested at least five youths on the city's streets.

All in all, some 18 settlers were wounded by Palestinian rioters. Two were evacuated to the hospital in light condition and 15 others were taken to a clinic in nearby Kiryat Arba for treatment.

Palestinian sources said that some 20 Arab residents of Hebron had been injured by rocks thrown by settlers since Monday night.

IDF troops located the house that served the Palestinian stone-throwers and broke into it. Earlier, soldiers were trying to disperse the rioters, most of whom were teenagers, with tear gas and stun grenades and two settlers were arrested for allegedly hurling rocks at Palestinians. The wounded youth, 16, was administered initial care by an MDA team and later evacuated to the Hadassa Ein-Karem Hospital.

Sources within the Jewish community of Hebron squarely placed responsibility for the incident on the army and police, who, they said, "are exhibiting powerlessness in dealing with Arab rioters who are throwing cinder blocks from the rooftops."

Earlier, in two villages in Samaria in the northern West Bank, Palestinians said groups of settlers burned animal feed and slashed tires in what has become a broader tactic on the part of the settlers meant to deter Israeli authorities from dismantling unauthorized outposts.

Word of mouth spread Monday night that security forces were poised to carry out a state order to evict nine families and their supporters from the building, where Jews have lived since March 2007.

Their claim that they purchased the building has been disputed by the Palestinian said to have been the seller. Until the dispute is resolved, the High Court of Justice has said that the state can evict the settlers.

On Monday night, even as they were preparing for a funeral, relatives of Mumbai victims Rivka and Gavriel Holtzberg took time to protest the possible eviction.

As he spoke with The Jerusalem Post, Rivka Holtzberg's brother Yossi Rosenberg received a message that the IDF might move against the settlers late Monday night or early Tuesday morning. He asked the Post to mention his family's ideological opposition to the eviction.

Nachman Holtzberg, Gavriel's father, wrote a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in which he asked that the state refrain from taking such action during a time of national mourning for the Mumbai victims. It should be a moment of unity for the Jewish people, which should not be disrupted by divisions or fighting, he told the Post.

"My son was an emissary for the united Jewish people," he added.

The violent incidents started Monday night as rumors of the impending evacuation in Hebron were circulated.

"Emergency - the destruction and eviction forces have reached 'Beit Hashalom'," stated an urgent message sent out by by Hebron settlers. "Everyone is requested to arrive immediately. This is the moment of truth for the settlement movement."

The settlers claimed that police and border policemen were streaming toward the center of Hebron and called upon supporters to come and "prevent the disgrace." They predicted that the evacuation would take place Monday night.

As the rumors started to circulate, youths began blocking various transportation routes in order to prevent the forces from reaching Hebron. Several incidents of rock throwing between the settlers and Palestinians were reported.

Protesters broke windows of cars and homes and defaced a Muslim cemetery in the area near the house. Settlers in several other locations in the West Bank also blocked roads and threw stones at Palestinian cars. Protesters also blocked the Jerusalem-Dead Sea road next to Mitzpe Yericho Monday evening but dispersed peacefully when police arrived.

Since the Supreme Court decided that the state may evacuate Beit Hashalom even before a final ruling regarding its legal ownership, many right-wing activists made a stronghold in the building, bracing for the arrival of the IDF and police.

Last week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced that security forces were striving for dialogue to try and convince the settlers to willfully evacuate the compound. However, he warned that they would be forcefully evicted if they failed to do so.

"Any harm inflicted upon an official Israeli representative; soldier, policeman... is a severe incident, which widens the crack that his tearing at the gentle fabric of Israeli democracy."

Abe Selig and Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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