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Kiryat Arba' - the difficulties of peace between Israelis and Palestinians Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by M J, United States Jul 15, 2008
Peace & Conflict , Culture , Human Rights  
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Kiryat Arba' - the difficulties of peace between Israelis and Palestinians After Israel prevailed in the war with the Arab countries in 1967, the Israelis began to govern the West Bank, which had been under Jordanian control before the war, and Gaza strip, which had been under Egyptian control before the war. The southern West Bank city of Hebron, which is 35 km south of Jerusalem, was one of the cities which were occupied by the Israeli army. During that time, which the Arabs called the Naksah (which means setback), voices of happiness were raised in Israel. Even the Israeli Defense Minister at that time, Moshe Dayan, described the victory as liberation in a press statement after his visit to the Abraham Mosque in Hebron.

The city of Hebron has the tombs of the family of the prophet Abraham, including Jacob (who is called as Israel). That is what makes Hebron a holy city for Jews, especially for religious Jews. It is this that pushed the religious groups to start working to settle Hebron and the West Bank in general after the 1967 victory.

The first settlement in Hebron was established in 1972 in the eastern part of the city near a region populated by Arabs, and it was named “Kiryat Arba'”. The legitimacy of the establishment of the settlement was challenged. The new settlers’ protest was that the lands were bought by them from Palestinian people; the Palestinians negated that and stated that the lands were taken by force.

The family of Abu-S'efan, which has 56 members (children, men, women, and one old woman) lives in a small house beside the fence of the settlement of “Kiryat Araba'”. Part of their land was taken by the builders of the settlement to add buildings for the settlement: “We were here before the settlement existed,” Hisham Abu-S'efan, the oldest brother in the family told the PEARL reporter about the legitimacy of the settlement existence. “The settlers try to drag us into problems all the time and they like to create trouble from nothing,” he added.

“One month ago, while we were sitting in front of our house, group of settlers attacked us with stones and staves, and we tried to defend ourselves. But when the Israeli army came, the soldiers sprayed gas onto the face of my older brother and I was injured in the face by a stone that was thrown by one of the settlers,” Mohammad Abu-S'efan, a member of the family, told the PEARL reporter. While the PEARL reporter and the members of the family were examining the destruction that the settlers had caused to the roof of the house, a group of young settlers stood near the fence of the settlement trying to provoke them until security personnel came. Then the PEARL reporter left the roof.

The settlement may seem a strategically important region for the Israeli government or a necessary doctrinal point for religious groups. “The subject of the settlements is a vital thing for Israel, and I hope that the world will understand its importance for Israel,” said Levi Hishkol, the Israeli Prime Minister in 1967, at the beginning of the settlements movement. As for the Palestinians, they see the settlements as an immoral action and as a violation of their human rights: “I have never been able to get to our land and to our uncle’s house without feeling fear,” said Shatha Da'na, a 16 year old Palestinian girl whose family has land near the settlement, to the PEARL reporter.

As for the legal aspect, according to law experts, Israel is violating the law by transporting Israeli citizens to the lands that it has occupied. That is not allowed in international law. Moreover, international law requires the country that is occupy another country to deal with the occupied people humanely, based on human rights. According to the Security Council decision number 242, which was made after the war of 1967, Israel is considered to be an occupier. The decision orders Israel to leave all the lands that it occupied in 1967.

The Palestinians who live near the settlement live reclusive lives. They walk on foot from their homes to an area where Palestinian cars can safely pick them up. For some people, this area is about 3 km from their homes. That makes them face difficulties in the winter and in the hot summer, especially when they want to get their basic necessities and when they need to carry some heavy things, “We have to think a thousand times whenever we want to get a gas cylinder,” said Abed-Alhafez Da'na, a 72 year old and living near the fence of “Kiryat Arba'”. He added, “We will stay here and we will not leave our lands and homes.”

Lately, a group of the settlers has obtained an incomplete residential building located opposite “Kiryat Arba'” on the main street. The settlers indicated official selling papers and said that they had bought the building from its Palestinian owner. The owner, who refused to have his name published, says that he did not sell anything to the settlers. According to the Israeli High Court, the papers were counterfeited.

The settlers are appealing the judgment. They are still in the building, which is also located near a Palestinian graveyard. The Israeli army has taken up position on the roof of the building, and sometimes the settlers who live there throw stones at the people who walk by. “They try to attack the people who walk by there most of the time, whatever their nationalities," one of the members of the Christian Peace Team in Hebron told the PEARL reporter.

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excuse me
karou | Dec 2nd, 2008
i m realy sorry becaus i don t have any thig to do to help you but don t forget that i m praying god to let the justis win and we are on the good way so go forward till we will have it back

What can we do to help
blessed vorgar | Apr 8th, 2010
Please let me know what I can do to help o k?

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