It’s just over a week and the heartache is still close to unbearable. So much blood has been needlessly spilled, and the murder of Elazar Lebovitch has left its mark.
There are two topics I’d like to discuss tonight. First, but not for the first time, the police. Hebron’s police force has to be one of the most heartless security organizations in the world, and that is not an exaggeration. Yesterday morning Hebron residents, including our youth who were Elazar’s friends, joined the Lebovitch family for a graveside memorial service, following the first week of mourning. Following the service a busload of the youth boarded a bus which was to take them to the Golan Heights for a much needed and well deserved few days of vacation – out of the city and its turbulence – breathing some fresh air from another part of the country. About twenty minutes outside Hebron, at the Gush Etzion junction, Hebron police ambushed the bus. About 40 riot squat police jumped onto the bus, pushing their way through the narrow isle, selectively removing several of the participants who were ‘wanted for questioning.’
The police, on the first day of this year’s summer recreation program, burst into the kid’s recreation room in Hebron with their guns drawn, looking for a Hebron ‘suspect’ whose crime was so serious that two hours after being dragged into the police station for interrogation, he was released. For that, they had to search for him with their guns out. And now, today, following a very difficult week of mourning for their friend, on their way to rest and relax for a few days, they are ambushed, again, wanted for ‘questioning.’
Following the arrests, the head of Hebron’s security contacted the Hebron police chief, Ali Zamir, and notified him that the kids were on their way to the Golan – why not just issue them summonses for questioning, setting the date for a week from now, and let them go. But no – Hebron kids cannot be let off so easy.
Only after the other kids staged a street demonstration at the El Arub refugee camp, a few minutes from Gush Etzion, did Zamir show up and tell Hebron leaders, “I didn’t know they were on their way for a vacation.” This same Zamir gave the orders to police to throw Anat Cohen over a police barrier about a year ago, leaving her flat on her back.
This kind of treatment at the hands of Hebron police is grossly inexcusable and must be put to a halt by those having the authority to do so. We call on Internal Security minister Uzi Landau to put a stop to the constant harassing of Hebron’s men, women and children by a police force, whose actions, unfortunately, bring back memories of days past, when Jews did not have their own state, and were forced to deal with regimes who where after their blood.
The second topic of tonight’s discussion concerns last week’s funeral in Hebron. Media reports world-wide have again vilified Hebron’s residents for a ‘pogrom,’ as many have so described it.
It is imperative to set the record straight. Following the start of the funeral, mourners were attacked by Arabs throwing rocks, cement blocks and iron bars from rooftops. I personally have investigated this matter and have no doubt whatsoever that it is the one and only true account of what happened. And this is not the first time such attacks have occurred. At the funeral of Mordechai and Shalom Lapid, in December, 1994, the same thing happened.
This time though, people were not about to stand around and just take it, so to speak. The reaction was not long in coming. However the reaction was not solely of civilians. Israeli soldiers, brought into Hebron to protect the public from continued Arab attacks, realizing the danger to human life, did anything and everything possible to safeguard the Jewish mourners. The danger was so great that they were forced to open fire. An Arab girl was killed, most probably by IDF gunfire, due to the massive attack on the mourners at the time of the funeral.
It is true that there were people who did get carried away. Not very many, but it did happen, not to the liking of Hebron’s leadership. The Arab attack, the emotions of the moment and the continued killing of innocent civilians by Arafat terrorists climaxed in an outpouring of rage. However, it must be said that there were close to 10,000 people at the funeral. A vast majority of these people were not from Hebron. Even the HaAretz newspaper, not known for its love of Hebron, specified that the unnecessary violence of civilians at the funeral was not committed by Hebron residents. Former Colonel Moshe Givati, appointed by Minister Uzi Landau to act as a go-between between Hebron’s Jewish community and the police said the same thing.
So why blame Hebron’s Jewish community and residents?
I think that these two topics of tonight’s commentary are related. There are those who simply don’t want us in Hebron, and will do anything and everything to get us out, including the persecution of children and use of counterfeit material to influence public opinion. But, don’t despair, because we surely will not. Our foothold in Hebron is not dependant on newspapers, radio, TV, politicians, or police. Our foothold in Hebron is not one layer deep, it is 4,000 years deep. And little nuisances here and there, as annoying as they are, will not loosen the Jewish people’s grip on their homeland and their heritage. For in the long run, that’s all they really are, little nuisances, irritants which will eventually be brushed aside.
With blessings from Hebron,
This is David Wilder