Friday, July 11, 2008

Hebron settlers decry "Activities of Leftist Organizations"

The extremist settlers whose occupation of Hebron's Old City has been growing and strengthening for decades have recently convinced the Israeli military to exclude not only most Palestinians, but also members of Israeli Peace groups and International Christian Peace groups from what they term "the Sterile Zone." In the process, the settlers have put out literature labeling groups from Peace Churches (CPT) and the World Council of Churches (EAPPI) as "antisemitic Christians [who] encourage terrorism and endanger the lives of soldiers and civilians alike" and who "engage in constant provocations and incitement."


11 July 2008

Recently, settlers in Hebron have increasingly demanded that the Israeli police remove Israeli and international peace and human rights organizations from the H-2 area of the city. Soldiers and settlers have succeeded in preventing two Israeli Breaking the Silence tours from entering Hebron, and police have informed CPTers they may not be in any of the areas where they might have contact with settlers—areas in which settlers attack and harass their Palestinian neighbors. Below is a section from the brochure that the settlers have been handing out to tour groups, entitled, "Inequality & Discrimination in Hebron. In contrast to the false anti-Jewish, and anti-Israeli propaganda, here are the real facts: FACTS." A photo accompanying the "Activities of Leftist Organizations" section in the brochure (quoted below) shows TIPH observers standing in front of a person who is hiding his/her face. Its caption reads, "TIPH observers cooperating with left-wing anarchists." Information on the various organizations cited has been added in brackets.

"Various international and anti-national organizations have targeted Hebron for hostile activities.

"Most of these organizations are funded by anti-Israel foundations, enemy states and European governments. They disseminate falsehoods and conduct propagandistic field trips, media shows, tendentious visits with VIPs, and sundry provocations in order to substantiate what they call "discrimination against Arabs.

"For example, the international Solidarity Movement (ISM) [ ],a blatantly pro-Palestinian-Arab organization, floods Hebron with "anarchists"from all over the world to harass the security forces that are charged with protecting the Jews in the tiny Israeli zone. Organizations such as Ecumenical Escorters [Meaning members of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.], Christian Peacekeeping Team [], among others engage in constant provocations and incitement. Groups of antisemitic Christians encourage terrorism and endanger the lives of soldiers and civilians alike. Israeli leftist organizations such as B'tselem [The premier Israeli human rights organization, see], Machsom Watch [an Israeli women's organization that monitors the treatment of civilians at military checkpoints.], Sons of Avraham [—english], and Breaking the Silence [] love to tour the city with groups of Israelis, non-Israelis, and diplomats, inciting against the Jews of Hebron by giving false, warped presentations.

"Especially grave is the fact that these organizations act in full cooperation with the observers of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), even though TIPH is supposed to be objective and to refrain from provocations. Furthermore, these organizations act with the cooperation of Palestinian disrupters of order and marauders to undermine the operations of the Israeli Defence Forces.

"The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) [] recently joined the activities of the Left in Hebron, acting continually by legal means to breach and trample the Jewish citizens' rights to life and safety."

The full text of the brochure is available {here}

In reality, the presence of volunteers from these peace groups reduce violence in downtown Hebron. EAPPI's activities include:

- Participate in the daily life and work of Palestinian and Israeli civil society, Churches and Christian communities.
- Be visibly present in vulnerable communities, locations or events, e.g. near Israeli settlements and the wall/fence, schools and homes, fields & orchards.
- Actively listen to local people's experiences and give voice to peoples' daily suffering under occupation and write or speak about these experiences in their reports and public speaking engagements.
- Monitor the conduct of Israeli soldiers (e.g. at checkpoints and other barriers and during demonstrations and other military actions) and contact relevant organizations and authorities to request intervention.
- Engage in non-violent ways with perpetrators of human rights abuses.
- Produce high quality, first-hand written materials, testimonies and analysis.
- Report on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that EAs witness and document and use these reports to inform governments and intergovernmental bodies and press them to take action.
- Engage with the media locally, nationally and internationally.
- Be part of international advocacy and networking activities that highlight the human rights situation in Palestine.

CPT's activities include:

- Monitors treatment of Palestinians at Israeli military checkpoints and roadblocks.
- Intervenes during Israeli military invasions of Palestinian homes.
- Continues regular visits, along with Israeli peace activists, to Palestinian families facing harassment from Israeli settlers
- Provides daily accompaniment for Palestinian children walking to and from school
- Accompanies Palestinian shepherds and farmers to fields where they are exposed to assault by extremist settlers
- Joins Israeli peace groups to replant olive groves destroyed by settlers
- Joins Palestinians and Israeli peace activists in acts of public nonviolent resistance to Israel's construction of a "security wall" which cuts through Palestinian territory.

Unfortunately, without access to the "Sterile Zone," peace groups will not be able to monitor and, in some cases, prevent the daily abuses of human rights that are inflicted there. The settlers have already succeeded in driving out most Palestinians from "the Sterile Zone:" over 200 shops have been shut down and only four Palestinian families still have access to their homes in the district. If the settlers have their way, Hebron's "Sterile Zone" soon may be entirely ethnically cleansed of Palestinians.

Report from Christian Peacemaker Teams Reprinted with Permission

Cross-posted at Booman Tribune

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