20 November 2012

by a member of CPT Al-Khalil (Hebron)

Saturday 10 November was the day of the Chayei Sarah, when Jews in Hebron remember Abraham’s
purchase of the Caves of Machpela in Hebron, as a final
resting place for Sarah. This greatly increased the number of settlers
in Hebron and of settlers doing the Saturday settler tour through the old city.

Between 1:30 and 3:30, around 1700 settlers came through the
market area (souq) of the old city in
eight groups of from eighty to 300 people. Each group was accompanied by
soldiers with a dog, and soldiers lined the entrances and exits off the souq.


Groups of settlers would stop in the middle of the souq and sing “Shalom chaverim” (Peace,
friends), while together with the armed guards surrounding them, they blocked
the way of unarmed Palestinians trying to do their shopping or get home. They also
chanted in Hebrew that Hebron should be for the Jews and not for the Arabs.

I was standing next to the man in the souq who creates sand art in bottles. Last year at this festival, settlers
broke over twenty bottles of sand art. “They will not force me to close my shop,”
he said, adding that he wants the settlers to see that there are people living
in Hebron and it is not an empty city to be claimed. The souq is very narrow outside his shop. It was intimidating for me when
settlers would come up and swear at us. They even pushed the camera out of my
hand, claiming I shouldn’t be filming on Shabbat.
What about not intimidating and closing off a souq for the Palestinians on Shabbat?

Yet what I faced was insignificant compared to what Palestinians
face in their daily acts of resistance, like this man opening his shop despite
past vandalism, and despite the fact that he knows that the settlers won’t buy
anything. He told us that the soldiers are there to protect the settlers and
did nothing last time his merchandise was destroyed. Yet he still has the
courage to be open and say to the settlers, I am here, this is my business and
you will not force me out.

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