Friday, November 10, 2006

A day out in Hebron

The brutality of Israel as a settler society is most starkly seen in Hebron. This is a town of around 220 000 people. It is not only surrounded by Zionist settlements (There are nearly half a million Zionists illegally settled in the West bank), but there are also around 300 ultra orthodox Jews settled in the old city itself, protected by an entire brigade (4000 troops) of the Israeli army (IDF)

It is worth saying a few things about the settlers. They fall into two categories, the economic settlers – where Israeli state policy subsidises migration into the West Bank, with low rents, tax rebates, etc. There are also the ideological settlers, like in the centre of Hebron. These ideological settlers do not work, they receive generous salaries from the state just to live in Arab areas, ,and their presence justifies huge repressive presence from the IDF and disrupts economic life and civil society for the Palestinians.

The economic settlements are linked by the road structure (special roads just for settlers) to Jeruslelem in an East-West axis, and the wall built allegedly to protect them hems in the Palestinian towns, like Bethlehem, and prevents economic expansion. The development of any independent Palestinian economy would need to grow north south, along the axis of Ramallah, East Jeruselem (currently entirely illegally annexed by the Zionists into “Israel” although it represents a full 40% on the Palestinian GDP), Bethlehem and Hebron. The pattern of settlements (and the road/wall infrastructure that supports it) makes economic independence impossible because it cuts at right angles across the natural geography of the West Bank.

For anyone used to the bustling life of an Arab souk, the old city of Hebron is a shock. The settlers have placed concrete blocks in the road to stop vehicular access to the shops, and the settlers also live cheek by jowl with Palestinian neighbours – this means to protect them there are soldiers stationed on all the roofs. The settlers – nearly all American born, but some French) live like pigs and throw their rubbish and detritus down into the street below, which has required the Palestinians to erect mesh roofs over the streets. As a result the souk is almost completely empty.

Note in the following picture, the house on the left is occupied by Palestians, the house on the right by ultra-orthodox Jewish settlers. Note that the settlers' house is poorly maintained and slovenly, and they have the army on the roof to protect them!

Settlers throw rubbish and waste out of their windows into the Arab streets below - their objective is to make life so intolerable for the Arabs that the leave.

Would you want to go shopping with an occupying army literally looking over you!

We met one man who has had two children killed by the settler family next door, trying to get him to move. Of course the settlers have de facto complete legal immunity. They have also offered him $1 million to move but he will not, especially after them murdering his children. But there is also the practical issue that he stands in the front line, and if he moves, his cousin next door will be next in turn for harassment. Literally 3 metres away from this man’s roof terrace is an IDF post on the settler’s roof, so close you can talk to the young soldier there. (you can see him on the left of the photo sticking his head out a gap in the mesh)

The Zionists have also stolen the souls of street children, these ultra poor urchins (as young as 9 or 10) are sometimes paid to act as spies by the IDF, and after a while payment stops, and they are then blackmailed instead, that the IDF will tell the Palestinians. Some of these children have gone on to commit assassinations for the Zionists.


Jim Jay said...

On a related topic this story in yesterday's Guardian had my blood boiling.

"According to the Israeli police, 25,000 cars are stolen every year in Israel, and most end up in Nablus. The stolen cars are easy to identify on the streets because they have an easily detectable imitation of a Palestinian Authority licence plate. They make up perhaps one in every three of the cars in Nablus..."

"The Palestinian police cracked down on the traffic in stolen cars in 2005 but were then ordered off the streets by Israel to allow its forces to enter the city. The police have recently returned to the streets but do not appear to have the will or resources to take on the problem..."

"You cannot bring a box into Nablus without it being checked yet it seems easy to bring in a convoy of cars. It is obvious that the Israeli army has something to do with it..."

"One member of the gang that imports stolen cars told the Voice of An Najar that the cars are stolen in Israel by Israeli gangs and driven into the West Bank, to Qalqiliya, Tulkarem or Jenin, which are just across the border from Israel. They are then driven to Nablus by members of the Israeli gangs or by soldiers, who are paid as much as £60 for delivery."

The suspicion being that these criminal gangs are used by the Israeli state not just to undermine the Palestinian economy but also for assassinations.

DesertPeace said...

Brilliant post... thank you!

Renegade Eye said...

Interesting well written post.

AN said...

Intersting on the issue of crime Jim, we had a meeting while we were over there with the Deputy foreign inister of the POA, who pointed out that the PA cannot crack doen on crime becuae the palestian police get stopped at the Israeli checkpoints! and any criminals on the run just hide behind the Israeli security.
Also the PA has had to build its legal system from scratch, as there have been no Palestinian lawyers trained between 1967 and 1994.