Amira Hass


Protected by the “system”

(25 July 2001)


HA’ARETZ (English Edition), Wednesday, July 25, 2001
Ha’aretz English website (

M.G. of Hebron married M.R. on July 7. Even two days after the wedding, on July 9, women continued to drop by and to bless the young newlyweds. Dozens of young people – the children of the women who came to visit, the children of the neighbors, and the young relatives of M.G. and his bride – gathered inside the house and near the door. The house is located about 200 meters from Kiryat Arba and is in an area that is under total Israel (civil and military) control.

At about 3:30 p.m. on July 9, four young women, wearing T-shirts and denim skirts, suddenly appeared in the courtyard. According to the testimony of the bridegroom’s mother – as recorded on July 10 by a researcher attached to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – the four young women began to hurl stones at her house.

The bridegroom went outside to see what was going on and his mother accompanied him. After the bridegroom had already entered the courtyard, his mother could see that about 15 Israeli men were gathered there. They were civilians, armed with what she described as “short rifles”. They were in the company of a man who had a pistol and who the mother concluded was a member of the Israeli security services. Most of the men were young, she noted. Four or five of them had long beards.

One of the armed Israelis went up to the bridegroom, lifted his rifle and brought it close to M.G.’s chest. The others aimed their rifles at four of his brothers. The young people inside the house began to throw stones at the Israelis. The mother, aged 55, joined them in throwing stones at the group of armed Israelis. The Israelis responded by hurling stones back at the occupants of the house.

M.G.’s mother called up journalists, the TIPH (the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, the body of interim international observers serving in that city) and – she claims – even the Israel Police. A number of television photographers arrived and filmed the confrontation, which, according to M.G.’s mother, lasted for about four hours.

The group of Israelis tried to prevent one of the photographers from filming the scene. They attacked him, knocking him to the ground. According to the bridegroom’s mother, the Israelis also inflicted blows on many of her children and relatives.

The mother, according to her testimony, saw several Israelis sitting on the chest of one of her sons. She threw a cellular phone at them. She also says that one of the young Israeli women attacked her with a rock.

About two hours after the incident had started and following her repeated telephone calls to the Israel Police, a number of police officers appeared, M.G.’s mother told the B’tselem researcher. A large group of soldiers also arrived. The police officers and the soldiers tried to separate the feuding parties by declaring the imposition of a curfew and by tossing a number of tear-gas and stun grenades.

The police and the army tried to push back the Israeli citizens, who refused to budge and instead wanted to continue their attacks, she reported. Eventually, the tear gas drove away the Israelis. They left the premises, she said, and then, some distance from her home, they began to hurl stones at her neighbors and at cars parked nearby.

According to the woman, one of the Israelis fired shots at a water tank atop the roof of a blacksmith’s workshop, puncturing the tank. One of the bullets shattered a window, causing the glass fragments to fall upon one of the machines in the workshop.

On July 12, Ha’aretz requested a response to the claims of the bridegroom’s mother from both the Israel Defense Forces spokesman and the spokesman of the Israel Police’s Judea and Samaria District. Four or five days later, the office of the IDF spokesman said that it could not reply and that all inquiries on this issue should be directed to the police spokesman.

The Israel Police spokesman responded on July 19: “Your inquiry was forwarded for further investigation to the Hebron police station and it was discovered that no record exists of this incident and that no complaint has ever been lodged with the police ... If other security forces were involved, please contact the IDF spokesman.”

The Israel Police spokesman also suggested that, if anyone had a grievance, a complaint should be filed with either the Hebron police station or with the District Coordination Office.

Did not Israeli police officers and Israeli soldiers appear during this incident? According to the responses of the spokesmen of both the Israel Police and the IDF, it seems possible to conclude that they did not in fact appear. Otherwise, it would be reasonable to assume that the representatives of law and order would surely have reported to their superiors the occurrence of a violent incident even if the persons who were attacked in this incident did not file an official complaint. And if that is the case, did the mother simply invent the details about the arrival of the police?

Or, in fact, is it possible that she made up the whole story? Perhaps no group of Israelis appeared on her property, taunted the residents of her home, hurled stones, inflicted blows or carried out any physical assault on anyone? The film footage of both the confrontation and the attack launched against the journalists was screened on Arab television news programs. However, this film footage did not find its way to Israeli television news shows or to the awareness of the Israeli public.

There is an endless torrent of such incidents – some more severe than this one, some less – which are taking place throughout the West Bank and which are not being documented. In fact, there was also an endless torrent of such incidents that occurred in various parts of the West Bank even before the outbreak of the present Intifada. All these incidents involve a daily diet of harassment, threats and malicious intentions directed against the Palestinians. These incidents took place and are continuing to take place without any connection to the murder of Jews or to shots being fired at them.

It is not powerlessness on the part of the Israeli authorities or any decision on their part to look the other way that is protecting Israeli citizens who are attacking Palestinians and which is hiding events from the eyes of the Israeli public. These Israeli citizens who are doing the attacking are being protected by the “system”.

It was this same system that more than three decades ago, relying on Israel’s military force, sent the Jewish citizens of this state to become settlers beyond Israel’s recognized borders (irrespective of the fact that some of these settlers thought that they were fulfilling a divine promise), to live on the cultivated and uncultivated lands of the local Palestinian populace, and to use that populace’s springs and wells.

The goal of this settlement project was that, at some future time, the homes of these settlers would ensure the expansion of the area over which Israel enjoys sovereignty. The struggle over the expansion of this area of sovereign control is now in high gear, and it is this struggle that is protecting the attackers, who are loyal soldiers of the “system”.


Last updated on 4.8.2001