Friday, October 19, 2007

Rights group: Steep rise in violence against Hebron Palestinians


If I came into your home and stole things, threw stones at you and your friends, shot at people, destroyed your garden, and destroyed the graves of your family—and then you told me to stop it, you refused to leave your home, you started guarding your garden and your graves, and you pushed and hit me and told me to leave—could I then complain about how your “violent actions” against me have risen in magnitude and multitude?

Of course, no sane person would listen to me. They would say, “Look at what you have done for the reasons behind your problems!”

However, if the group I complained to hated you, and if that same group had a lot of influence over a large newspaper—my story would look something like the following.

By Nadav Shragai, Haaretz Correspondent and Haaretz Service

Violent attacks and against Palestinian residents of Hebron, carried out by both settlers and security forces, have risen sharply over recent months, according to a report published by Israeli human rights group B'Tselem.

The report maintains that the rise in violence and violations of human rights of the Palestinian residents began in March, when Jewish settlers began living in a disputed house in Hebron after several years of negotiating with the Palestinian owners. The settlers maintain that they own the property, while the Palestinian residents of the city claim the deal was a scam. Moves to evict the settlers have so far been unsuccessful.

Since then, B'Tselem reports, dozens of assaults against Palestinian residents of the area have been documented, which include the hurling of garbage and bottles filled with urine at them, urinating from the house toward them, spitting, threats and verbal abuse. According to the report, these assaults are carried out in plain view during daylight hours with police officers and soldiers standing by.
The report adds that violence toward Palestinians perpetrated by Israeli security forces has also increased since the settlers began occupying the disputed house. In addition, B'Tselem reports, new roadblocks have been erected in the area and severe travel restrictions have been imposed on the Palestinian population.

The report lists some 30 incidents involving settlers, and some 10 attacks carried out by security personnel.

The Jewish community in Hebron responded to the damning report, saying "the report published by the left-wing is full of lies. The true facts reveal that the aggressor in this situation is in fact the Palestinian side. More incidents of Arab violence against Jews are recorded in one week than in all the seven months surveyed in the left's overblown report. Extreme left-wing activists encourage the Arab violence, and initiate it. The main culprits of the violence and disturbance of peace in Hebron are the terrorist organizations brought here by the extreme left and the enormous amount of weapons they have been given. A Jewish presence in Hebron does not destabilize the peace; in fact it contributes to it."

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