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.