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Settlement reports

In Hebron on the occupied West Bank live 600 Israeli settlers fighting for Israeli rule in the city. New Time has visited them. 

This article is machine translated by Google from Norwegian


"I think it was right of the soldier to shoot – the terrorist could have had a bomb. I was standing on my balcony taking pictures, and it was clear that people in the scene were scared. And now the soldier should be brought to trial because he protected the people he is set to protect. It is completely unbelievable."

Tizpi Schlissel looks at me and punches with his arms. The volume of her voice has been steadily up and down since the conversation started just over half an hour ago – and now the volume is at its peak:

“The soldiers are here to protect us from people who want to obliterate our existence – not just from Hebron, but from all of Israel. The Jews have been assigned to a small country, and we must fight to keep it. At worst, this incident can cause the soldiers to be afraid to shoot to protect us if needed. "

The incident Schlissel refers to is an episode that occurred in Hebron on March 14 this year. Two Palestinian men were shot after attacking a soldier in Schlissel's neighborhood. One Palestinian died immediately from the gunshot wounds, while the other was initially severely injured on the ground. A video that was later released shows a soldier walking over to the surviving man and shooting him in the head. The killing itself is not unique – it adds to the range of both real and alleged knife attacks with subsequent killings of the perpetrator. The special thing this time was that the incident was captured on film, and the soldier went to trial. "But the soldier has broad support in Israel," Schlissel says.

Settlers in the city center. I was here a few months ago too – in the same neighborhood, just a few meters away – to talk to another person about the same incident, namely the man who filmed (see New Time 4/2016, "Filmed murder – was threatened" ). After publishing the film, Palestinian human rights activist Abu Shamsiya experienced severe attacks and threats from settlers in the city.

"The worst thing is that we are surrounded by this all the time. Not long ago it happened up here too, "says Schlissel, who is in his fifties and has eleven children. "It's unsafe to deal with, and difficult for our children to grow up in." Several of her children are already married, she says, and shows me pictures of children and grandchildren. She and her family are among the approximately 600 Jewish settlers in Hebron, the only Palestinian city with Israeli settlers inside the city center. They are considered to be the most violent and extreme settlers in the entire West Bank. Schlissel himself grew up in Jerusalem, but the family's history in Hebron dates back to 1929, when his grandmother came to the city to assist the sister who had just given birth. That same year, 67 Jews were killed and nearly a hundred injured in an uprising by the Arab population in the city. The grandmother and sister survived, and fled, like most of the nearly 400 Jews living in Hebron, to other parts of the country.

"I have Arab neighbors, but I don't know them. I don't mind them personally, but unfortunately history has shown that we can never be sure of what they can think of. ”

A few years later, the family returned to Hebron, where they lived a relatively quiet life until one evening in 1994. Then, a Palestinian man entered his parents' house and stabbed and killed his father. "It was a terrible experience. Such events make it easier to not be afraid, ”says Schissel. Now the family lives in the disputed area of ​​Tel Rumeda. The area is currently populated by both Israelis and Palestinians, but Schlissel says that she deals with her Palestinian neighbors as little as possible: “I have Arab neighbors, but I do not know them. I don't mind them personally, but history has unfortunately shown that we can never be sure of what they can think of. It is important to understand the situation today in light of what happened in 1929. I am not saying that everyone wants us hurt, but many of them want us to disappear from here. We have to fight for it not to happen, ”she says.

I ask her what she thinks about the Israeli government's policy on this conflict. "When Israel tries to sign peace agreements, it is the Arabs who refuse," she says. “Thousands of Israelis have been killed in terror attacks since the signing of the Oslo Agreement. Benjamin Netanyahu promised not to give the Arabs land, but shortly thereafter he agreed that Hebron should become Arab. He has failed us. It's not like the Arabs want a Palestinian country – they want an Arab state, ”Schlissel says, but shakes her head when I ask if she has considered moving from the city.

Threatened with machine gun. In Judaism, Hebron is considered one of the four holy cities, because the tomb of the patriarchs, or Makpela Cave, is located here. The Abraham Mosque, an important shrine for Muslims, has been built around the cave. The fear of and dissatisfaction with the presence of others is not difficult to notice in Hebron. Even before the interview began, I was warned against the Arabs by two settler women – originally from India – when I was asked about the road: "We know which direction it is, but you should not go there alone?" they said to me. "Oh no, is it far?" so I. 'No,' they said, 'but it's not safe. There are so many… how do we say this dette »

"Many soldiers?"

"No. Many Arabs! ”

The warnings from the two women make me think of a shop in the area, which I visited a few weeks earlier. The day before I was there, the shop owner experienced being visited by a settler. Without a word, the settler should have been pointing at the shop owner for 15 minutes with a machine gun. Some witnesses to the incident called for soldiers stationed just outside, but there was little they could do. Fortunately, the man with the gun disappeared – but he made it clear that he wanted to come back.

"The settlers are VIP here," the store owner told me later.

"Pure anti-Semitism." Back at Tripzi Schlissel, we move out of the apartment building and towards the Jewish Museum in the city, where she works part time. Here is a group of tourists waiting to be shown around. From the verandas on either side of the narrow street are Israeli flags of various sizes. We pass a military post directly across from the museum. "Do you see this staircase?" says Schissel. “A few months ago, a soldier on duty here was assaulted and stabbed by an Arab who came down the stairs. I have a movie of it inside, I can show you. "

"They must stop killing us, stop working to erase us from the face of the earth. Then both the soldiers and the control posts will disappear. "

Since October last year, violence between Palestinians and Israelis has escalated. What has long been referred to as a third intifada has cost over 200 Palestinians and 28 Israelis lives, many of them civilian. Several of the killings have occurred in Hebron, which has led to more soldiers in the streets and stricter checks at the checkpoints in the city. But Schlissel appreciates the military presence. “I look at the soldiers as part of the Israeli family, and I am proud of the effort they are doing to protect us here in Hebron. I know it is an international opinion that both the soldiers and the control posts are a major nuisance to the Arabs here, but that is in their own way a mistake. They must stop killing us, stop working to erase us from the face of the earth. Then both the soldiers and the control posts will disappear, ”she says.

How does she envision Hebron in ten years? "I want Hebron to become a Jewish city where Jews can live freely without being anxious," Schissel says. "When it comes to the Arabs who want to kill us, I don't really care what happens to them. They can be deported or defeated. Those who want to live with us in peace are something else, ”she says. "Israel is not a racist country."

Two women dressed in skirts and long skirts come over to the table where we have sat down. They have listened to the interview and want to come up with some additional input. "The worst is the international organizations that come here to defend the Palestinians based on the propaganda they hear in the media," said one of the women. "No one comes to defend us. Had these people really cared about human rights – and then we mean real human rights – they would have helped us as well, ”she continues. "But no one is interested in asking us if we need assistance with anything. It is pure anti-Semitism. Had it not been for the organizations, things would have been better here – they would come and destroy. "

The journey to the beginning of time. The guided tour starts with a movie. Together with the group to be guided, I am strapped to a long bench, which is reminiscent of the seats you are stuck in when taking a carousel at the funfair. Suddenly, the silence is broken by a voice echoing through the dark hall, and the seats move from side to side. Some young people behind me giggle excitedly. On the screen a family emerges – a mother, a father and a teenage son. From the men's headgear we can see that they are Jews, and judging by the accent we can assume that they are Americans. "We'll take you back to the beginning of time," says his father. More movement, more giggling. As the seats shake beneath us, we travel through space and end up on a grassy plain. Around us are men in robes. We are introduced to the Prophet Abraham.

The scene changes, and we find ourselves on a similar grassy plain. Jubilant people walk around wearing the same biblical outfits. But this time, a large building has been erected here: the Makpela cave, ie the mentioned tomb complex, stands in the middle of the square.

The family's teenage son decides to enter the building, but is stopped halfway up the stairs by a man of Arab appearance. "You don't have the right to be here," the Arab man cries in broken English. A man further down the stairs, who, according to the suit, also belongs to Judaism, explains that Jews have been denied access to the building.

And now it is seriously changing. The seats jump from side to side as lightning and thunderstorms spread across the sky. The family tries to escape through the old city of Hebron, but they get away from each other. Suddenly, the teenage son is overwhelmed by a man with dark skin and a huge saber. All of a sudden, the Israeli flag is waving on the screen, then we see some soldiers, a fighter plane and a number of politicians. The family is back on the screen and smilingly they enter the Makpela cave hand in hand.

"We must build the country and fight for the existence of Israel." The light is getting louder, I hear music, and the room is filled with soap bubbles that are sprayed from the walls of the hall. During the applause, an elderly woman leans towards me: "This was a strong movie."


avatar photos
Carima Tirillsdottir Heinesen
Former journalist for MODERN TIMES.

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