Thursday, September 20, 2007

The Hebron tactic

From an article by Amira Hass (found via here):



“For about 25 minutes, they behaved liked lords of the land: One man, followed later by a young guy, descended from Mitzpeh Yair, one of the unauthorized outposts in the southern Mt. Hebron area, and prevented a United Nations jeep from traveling. UN directives prohibit leaving the vehicle in such cases, in order to avoid an escalation of friction. And so we, three Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) staffers and two Haaretz journalists, were forced to watch them demonstrate their lordliness from inside the car: The older one blocked the vehicle, in the middle of the unpaved road, with his body. Using hand movements, he ordered the engine shut down. When that didn't happen, he jumped on the hood and then on the roof and back on the hood, and finally lay back on the windshield and played with the wipers, taking them apart. The driver progressed slowly down the track, and the man leaned back on the windshield with force, until it broke and shards went into the driver's eyes.


In the meantime, the younger guy appeared. He tried opening the doors of the jeep, screaming, ‘show me your identity cards’ and placing big rocks in front of the wheels. By the time the army and police drove up, the older man yelled at Haaretz photographer Alex Levac: ‘Go back to where you came from.’ When he realized that Levac was a Jew and born in this country, he shouted: ‘Traitor, going with the UN.’ Both the older man and younger guy living at the outpost were born abroad. The younger man, a British citizen, has not yet been given new-immigrant status.


But what does that matter? It also didn't matter that the soldier described them as ‘problematic’ and that the police are familiar with the older man from previous incidents of harassment. Nor did it matter that the police officers did not believe their absurd story that we had been in their olive grove and that we had tried to run the older man over. The tactic is one that is well-known from Hebron, the same tactic that helped to cleanse the Old City of most of its Palestinian residents: Jews harass and bully and then threaten to lodge complaints against their victims with the Israeli police.”


and:



“It is easy to blame the two men, or those like them. But they practice terrorizing Palestinians because Israeli authorities let them do so.


In their own way, they do the same thing the ‘legitimate’ occupation authorities do: They drive the Palestinians off their land to make room for Jews. In other words, they are following orders.”


The official attitude towards the UN by the Israeli government is similar.  Of course, relative to the treatment the settlers give the Palestinians, the UN employees got off easy.

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