The rulers of Hebron

Ever since the occupation of the territories began,

the settlers of Hebron have been noteworthy for their

militancy, their racist hatred against Palestinian

residents of the city and the violent contempt that

they and their children demonstrate toward the rule of

law and every person in uniform who acts in its name.

But those in uniform, and especially the men in blue,

have seemed throughout these years to be at a loss in

the face of these settlers' determination to make

their neighbors' lives unbearable, while trampling on

every law and desecrating every Jewish and human

value. The acts of these boors have blackened, and

continue to blacken, Israel's name. And these serial

rioters' stated reliance on the tradition of the

patriarch Abraham, a figure described as having "a

kindly eye and a humble spirit," is nothing but a

gross distortion.

The Civil Administration recently drafted a report

that documents some of the acts of the Hebron settlers

(Ha'aretz, August 11). This document, which was

submitted to the prime minister and the defense

minister, notes in detail how this unique Jewish

settlement rears "shock troops" of boys and girls,

steeped in hatred and arrogance, who torment the

Palestinians and oppress them in various ways. The

graduates of these operations, the young couples,

serve as reserves for breaking into Palestinian houses

adjacent to the Jewish neighborhoods in order to evict

their occupants and annex these houses to the Jewish

settlement. "No one dares to deal with them," one

security official confessed to a Ha'aretz reporter.

The settlers' brutal vandalism reached its disgraceful

peak two weeks ago, during the funeral of soldier

Elazar Leibowitz, a Hebron resident who was murdered

in a shooting attack on a road outside the city.

Dozens of residents of the settlement and their guests

from outside rioted, shot at Palestinian houses,

killed a Palestinian girl and wounded others, beat up

passersby and destroyed property. The rioters also

faced off with the police, who failed in their efforts

to contain or restrain the violent rampage. Colonel

(res.) Moshe Givati, an adviser to the public security

minister, termed the settlers' assault a "pogrom" - a

loaded word that Jews do not lightly apply to the acts

of other Jews.

It is hard to understand the behavior of the police -

their lack of preparation before the rioting and their

helplessness during it. These same police and Border

Police troops acted forcefully in Bethlehem last

Shabbat against peace activists who had come there to

demonstrate, reminding everyone of their ability to do

so - when they so choose.

The settlers of Hebron, like the residents of every

other settlement in the West Bank and Gaza and of many

towns and cities within Israel, have suffered painful

losses at the hands of Palestinian terrorists. Their

daily lives in the environment they have chosen to

inhabit are indeed filled with constant pressure and

danger. But this in no way justifies, or even

mitigates, the severity of their behavior toward the

largely peaceful Palestinian population that surrounds

them. And there is certainly nothing in this fact to

excuse the ongoing failure of the Israel Police and

the other security services to enforce the law



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