Friday, January 19, 2007

FEATURE: Palestinian's families imprisoned in Hebron, By Mohammed Mar'i

A Palestinian Family Caged in Hebron
By Mohammed Mar'i
(Arab American Media Services. Permission granted to republish.)

(Ramallah, Occupied Palestine)-- The Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) and the Israeli Police prohibited Israeli Peace Now activists from interring the West Bank city of Hebron on Thursday, January 7 th, 2007 in order to protest the violence towards Palestinians on the part of settlers in the town, mainly the harassment of a Palestinian woman by the Israeli female settler Yifat Alkobi.

The Israel Radio reported Thursday that the Hebron army commander and the city's police chief had originally permitted the Peace Now demonstration, but (IOF) Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Ya'ir Naveh had decided to cancel it, saying in a statement that it was a danger to public security, peace and order in Hebron.

Despite the fact that the video of Alkobi calling a Palestinian woman of Abu Aisheh family "sharmuta" (whore) has been taken in June 2006 by B'tselem, but it gave a real image of how the Hebronites and Israeli live according to Wye River agreement that divided the city to H1 and H2 sections. The H1 section which contains the neighborhoods was allocated for the Palestinians. The H2 which contains the religious and historic places in Hebron was allocated for Israeli settlers.

The Abu- Aisheh family in Hebron has been suffering at the hands of Israeli settlers of Tel-Rumaida community for a along time now. Members of the Abu Aisheh family claimed that the quarrel was just one example of the suffering they endure on a daily basis. Tayseer Abu- Aisheh, 43, said that he had filed between 200 and 300 complaints against settlers in recent years, but the Israeli police did nothing to stop their harassment.

Abu-Aisheh and his extended family live in a two-storey house. "The cage you see in the video is where we live. When we open the door and we hear curse words or stormed by stones and eggs by them (settlers)" he said. "In this winter, they (settlers) spray us with cold water using a big fire hose located near the house", he added.

Abu- Aisheh said "hell" is not a strong enough word to describe what his family is going through. "To prevent confrontations with the settlers – we coordinate the time we leave the cage we live in with the settlers' schedule," he said. "We leave for work and school only after they do – and this result in tardiness."

According to Abu Aisheh, during the Eid al-Adha holiday a week ago he was forced to obtain special permits for his family to visit his home. "My wife's family has not visited us for the past five years because there are no permits and for fear of settler harassments," he said. Every day the Israeli Civil Administration soldiers visit the Abu Aisheh house to make certain that no strangers reside there with the family members. Recently they have been required to obtain permits to bring their sheep into the property. "The charity organizations wanted to give my father three sheep so he may raise them and earn a living, and we called the International Red Cross to coordinate their entrance (to the property), he said. "This is how life is in hell."

No doubt that the life of Abu Aisheh family is a real prison and that the video tape incident is shocking, but the big question is: Can both sides live together?

Where hatred is dominating in Hebron, coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians seems impossible. The Israeli settlers clustered around the "Cave of the Patriarchs" believe that facing the" murderous terrorists" who make up most of Hebron's Palestinians is a purchase to Prophet Abraham. The Palestinians consider that the Israeli community which consists of 600 settlers intent on ethnically cleansing the 120,000 local inhabitants. There is no potential middle-ground, no place for compromise. It is a portray of Palestinian –Israeli conflict.

(Mohammed Mar'i is a freelance Palestinian journalist based in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine. He can be reached at