We who live in the comfort of our homes and neighborhoods in Israel are totally unaware of the daily harassment of Arabs living in occupied Hevron. It’s an harassment engendered by a symbiotic relationship between illegal settlers and military occupation. It’s a relationship based on the premise that the settlers can have a quassi-normal life only by spending much effort in protecting them militarily within an occupied area; an effort to protect illegal settlers which so often overshadows the protection of the recognized borders of the Jewish State.
Much of this harassment is actually physical and violent. But there is also the constant harassment by “non-violent” degradation and punishment. This is constant, constant. constant. I repeat, constant.
Last week I received a copy of a letter written by Issa Amro. Issa Amro is a resident of Hevron in the occupied (H2) section. Issa is a Palestinian activist in Hebron. He is also the closest you can call a “peace-activist” in Hevron – meaning protesting the occupation by non-violent means. He also works for B’tzelem, an Israeli center for human rights in the territories. He is known as such in Hevron by Arabs and Jews and the military. His English is far from excellent, but it is perfect enough to show the meaning of constant harassment, constant harassment, constant harassment – and the symbiosis between settlers and military occupation.
Here is his letter (received via the Israeli activist group - Bnei Avraham):
I am writing this to discharge my feeling by writing to my friends who can understand me .Today at 9:00 Pm I was walking beside the new settlement in Hebron (Palestinians building was occupied by the settlers recently). Two settlers with guns, they came to me, stood in my way and started photographing me. I didn't care. Its normal with me , I kept walking. One from them told me “I will kill you. I will kill all the Arabs”. The other one said “where is Carlos, where is Joanne, where is gorge and Troudy (gorge and Troudy yesterday the settlers attacked them and they went to the hospital). I didn't care and I kept walking. When I arrived to the soldiers tent I called them and I told them please help me, they are telling me that they want to kill me. Directly the settlers said to the the soldiers that I cut the water pipes, I told the soldiers NO NO NO NO, they told me they want to kill me, and lets go to see the water pipes. Soldiers said: 'sheket' (shut up) , give me your ID. They were five soldiers - two border police and three regular soldiers. They told me what do you have in your bag. They forced me to take off everything from the bag and put it in the ground. I told them I work for 'Btselem' and its the Israeli center for human rights. One of the regular soldiers said “I hate them more than you”. I told him “why?” He said “shut up”, after they saw every thing in my bag ,they were trying to provoke my feeling and they said many bad words. they finished with the bag so they told me now we want to search your body. They forced me to face the wall and to open my legs and searched me in very violence way. After that I told the soldiers you know I am not a terrorist, why you doing this with me? he said "shut up don't speak", they gave me my ID and told me have a nice day.
I think they intended to examine my nonviolence attitude. I think I got 10 from 10 , but I don't know next time how much I will get. They are doing all of this harassment daily in Hebron. For me each day they check me and detain me for at least 20 min. Some people they converted their attitude to be violence. I understand them.
According to the Israeli law the soldiers can do this if they suspect I am a terrorist, but they are sure that I am not and they know that I am usually leading Israeli tours and International delegations in the area , all the Israeli parliament members who visited Hebron I led them in the same area.
We need in hebron an army from the human rights worker. Now we have just three volunteer in TelRumieda.
Think of it: These are not the “normal once in a while” screw-ups of war and occupation. This is not a "special military operation". This is part of the daily, hourly norm of Arab life in occupied Hevron. It also relates the normal relationship between settlers and army.