While the world's attention is caught by the agreement which seems to bring an end to the prolonged siege of Yasser Arafat's headquarters, the city of Hebron with its 200,000 inhabitants, which had been spared invasion in the earlier stages of Sharon's war, is now enduring what the other West Bank cities had gone through weeks ago: dozens of tanks churning the asphalt of its streets and crushing private cars; tens of thousands of inhabitants imprisoned in their homes by a tight curfew; soldiers invading houses and turning some of them into firing positions, with families crowded into a single room of their home; confrontations and shooting on the streets (10 Hebronites are reported dead, so far). On the TV screens we again witness the sickening sight of dozens of blindfolded and handcuffed Palestinians being led into detention and security service interrogation.
Also on TV, Colonel Hagger, one of the invading force's commanders, spoke ominously of militants "holding out within a hospital" - which may mean that Hebron's Aliya Hospital may tonight share the fate of the Ramallah hospitals which suffered destructive visitations from soldiers a few weeks ago.
For the past half year a kind of local cease-fire had been in force in Hebron and its environs, which is apparently why Hebron had been spared invasion so far. The official reason why the city is now invaded is the Palestinian attack on the Israeli settlement of Adora, in the West bank some twenty kilometers to the west of Hebron, and in which four settlers were killed including a five-year old girl; but it seems that the invasion of Hebron had been prepared even before that attack, and that parts of both the political and military echelons were unwilling to terminate the present invasion without having Hebron among their trophys.
In fact, Israeli military forces had been long poised for invasion of Hebron in the suburb of Dura, which had been occupied and held under curfew ever since March 6. As we heard from our friends in Dura, today was the town's worst day since the whole mess began: dozens of tanks, which had been gradually pulled away from its streets in the past weeks, came back in force; soldiers break into houses and offices, destroying equipment indiscriminately; hundreds of inhabitants are arrested and ordered to strip almost completely naked, to show they do not wear explosives, and kept that way for many hours under the open sky, in what is the one the highest (and therefore coldest0 points in the whole country). Many of these detainees, moreover, had already been detained for several days in the beginning of the invasion, weeks ago - and were then released and sent home; now, a new batch of soldiers and security officers seems to have taken over the town, starting the "sweep" all over again, taking the same people out of their homes once again.
In Washington, the State Department Spokesman called upon Israel to withdraw from Hebron and other Palestinian areas occupied in the past month. It remains to be seen how hard this demand will be pushed .
For further info call Adam Keller 972-(0)3-5565804. NB: "The Wounded Lion" (The Other Israel's editorial overview by Adam Keller evaluating one year of Sharon rule) is now online: http://other_israel.tripod.com/ed.html Full transcript of the war crimes panel available on the Gush site For Hebrew http://www.gush-shalom.org/archives/forum.html . For English http://www.gush-shalom.org/archives/forum_eng.html French available at request
GUSH SHALOM The Israeli Peace Bloc POB 3322 Tel-Aviv 61033 Web: http://www.gush-shalom.org/ E-mail: [email protected] . Copyright © Gush Shalom 2002. Reprinted for fair use only
The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/GUS205A.html
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