13 Feb 2008

Emergency appeal against destruction in Hebron

Just had this from Gwen Backwell...please pass it on.


Dear Friends

I'm forwarding an urgent action appeal to you from Jerusalem to ask you to take the action requested. It's from the CPT (Christian Peacemakers Team) in Hebron whom I visited just 4 days ago. They are an extremely committed group of mainly American Christians who have a long term but very small presence in the centre of Hebron. They live communally in a house surrounded by barbed wire and military installations in the heart of Hebron old city which has been cut in two because 400 of the most violent, armed settlers have taken over Arab houses and shops around the old souq and have forced out the native population. Hebron is the city most affected by the daily violence of settlers and army (2000 soldiers "protecting" 400 armed settlers against an unarmed population, whose presence even the Israeli government does not encourage (though allows). Several international organisations, including an official European presence of monitors, have a permanent presence in Hebron to protect Palestinians going about their daily business and especially helping children to get to school. For more information please look at the website of the CPT (www.cpt.org/work/palestine)

I say all this by means of a very personal introduction to the appeal that has just come from the CPT for the world to take action to prevent these imminent demolitions. If I go there myself or receive any further appeals I'll be in touch again. A quick letter will do to the authorities to ask them to put pressure on the Israelis to stop this aggression of demolitions. Everyone in government will be familiar with the dire situation in Hebron - you won't need to explain much (you can always give your MP this website anyway if in doubt.) If you can send it to your own church authorities in Britain it would also help.

Many, many thanks
Gwen



To: cpthebron@yahoogroups.com
From: cptheb@palnet.com
Date: Sun, 10 Feb 2008 23:20:47 +0200
Subject: [cpthebron] Urgent Action

URGENT ACTION ALERT

Israeli Civil Administration set to demolish a clinic and 11 homes near Hebron, in the Beqa'a Valley, this week

10 February 2008

HEBRON Palestinian residents of the Beqa'a Valley are in danger of losing twenty homes and their health clinic. The clinic is currently under construction. The Israeli Civil Administration issued orders to the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) to demolish the homes and clinic by the end of the week.

Residents in the valley have been building this clinic without governmental or outside funding, even though many have little or no paid employment. The Israeli Civil Administration refused to grant a building permit despite the difficulties residents encounter in reaching other health facilities outside of the valley. Between 600 and 700 people, mostly women and children, will use the new clinic for routine medical care, including prenatal checkups and vaccinations. Palestinian Relief and CARE International currently provide these services one day a week in other existing facilities. The residents decided to build their own clinic as the facilities they are now using are inadequate. Some patients are currently receiving care in part of one resident's home.

(To view pictures of Beqa'a Valley residents using an existing home as a clinic, visit http://www.cpt.org/gallery/album233. )

Twenty other buildings also have demolition orders. Six of these are homes that the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) rebuilt after previous demolitions.

Atta Jaber, a resident of the Beqa'a Valley, told CPTers (members of Christian Peacemaker Teams), "We want the world to know that with our new clinic that has the demolition order, if there was an automobile accident on the Bypass Route 60, and Israelis were injured and could not get to a hospital, we would give them medical treatment right here in this Palestinian clinic. Tell the world." Israeli authorities demolished Jaber's home in the Beqa'a Valley three times.

ACTION

Please call, e-mail or write to the Israeli Defense Forces. Urge them to rescind the demolition orders and allow residents to complete the clinic in the Beqa'a Valley.

Send appeal electronically: http://dover.idf.il/IDF/English/Contact+Us/

Public Appeals Officer Phone: (country code 972) 03-5691000

Public Appeals Officer Fax: (country code 972) 03-5699400

In addition, please call, email or write to your government officials. Urge them to send a strong message to the Israeli government to rescind the stop work orders and allow residents to complete the clinic in the Beqa'a Valley.

Below is a suggested list of contacts for this Urgent Action.



Canada:

Embassy in Tel Aviv – The Canadian Embassy, PO Box 9442, Tel Aviv 67060, Israel. Fax: (011 972 3) 636-3380. Email: taviv@dfait-maeci.gc.ca
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Office of the Prime Minister, 80 Wellington Street, Ottawa, Canada, K1A 0A2. Fax: 613-941-6900 or Email: pm@pm.gc.ca

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Maxine Bernier, House of Commons, Ottawa ON, Canada, K1A 0A6. Fax: (613) 995-0687 or Email: Berni M @parl.gc.ca.
You can mail your MP at the House of Commons address, or find their email address at http://www.parl.gc.ca/information/about/people/house/PostalCode.asp?Source=SM

UK:
Embassy in Tel Aviv – British Embassy, 192 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63405, Israel. Tel: (+972 3) 725 1222; Fax: (+ 972 3) 527 8574. Email: webmaster.telaviv@fco.gov.uk
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, 10 Downing Street, London SW1A 2AA
To email the Prime Minister go to http://www.number10.gov.uk/output/page821.asp

Foreign Secretary David Miliband, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH. Tel: 020 7008-1500

To email MP, MEP's, MSPs, or Northern Ireland, Welsh and London AMs http://www.writetothem.com/

Contact details for UK Members of Parliament and House of Lords:

http://www.parliament.uk/directories/directories.cfm

Contact details for UK Members of Parliament:

http://upmystreet.com/commons/1/

Contact details for the Members of the Scottish Parliaments:

http://scottish.parliment.uk/msp/membersPages/msplocator.htm



Sweden:

Contact PM Fredrik Reinfeldt , Phone: 46 8 405-1000, email via senior registry clerk –

www.sweden.gov.se

Contact Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, Phone: 46-8-405-1000, email via senior registry clerk – www.sweden.gov.se



USA:

Embassy in Tel Aviv – US Embassy, 71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv 63903, Israel. Email: Mary Glantz, Human Rights, glantzme@state.gov Or Michelle Schohn,schohnjm@state.gov Or ac5@bezeqint.net

President George W Bush, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC20500

Register your message with the White House Comment Line 202-456-1111.

comments@whitehouse.gov.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, 2201 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20520

Matthew S. Rosenstock Office of Israel and Palestine Affairs in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs in the State Department. Email: RosenstockMS@state.gov, phone 202-647-1461. Met with Abduhadi when he was in the States.

To contact your Senator go to http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

To contact your Representative go to http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/

Or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202)-224-3132 and ask for the appropriate Congressional office.

________________________________________________________
Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, please visit our website at www.cpt.org. Photos of our projects may be viewed at: www.cpt.org/gallery



Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, visit our website www.cpt.org Photos of our projects are at www.cpt.org/gallery A map of the center of Hebron is at http://www.reliefweb.int/rw/fullMaps_Sa.nsf/0/5618737E38C0B3DE8525708C004BA584/$File/ocha_OTS_hebron_oPt010805.pdf?OpenElement The same map is the last page of this report on closures in Hebron: www.humanitarianinfo.org/opt/docs/UN/OCHA/ochaHU0705_En.pdf

1 comment:

Jon said...

I am broadly in support of this action & campaign. The extremist Jewish settlers in Hebron are probably the Israelis I like least, yet I feel the lack of background and balance in these campaign letters is most misleading and unhelpful.

Hebron has a history and always (since ancient times) had a native Jewish as well as Arab population (barring the period when the Arabs massacred them and then the British Mandate "ethnically cleansed" the survivors to use the modern objectionable parlance, "for their own protection". This is why the Jewish extremists go and defiantly live there now.
"No one" they say, "is going to ethnically cleanse the land of Israel" (and post-Shoah, they have a fair bit of support in Israel for this line).

The Jews are living, principally in the area of the old "Jewish Quarter" which was Jewish owned land under a politically worked out partition agreement - though they have tresspassed beyond it now.

- - - - -

Here is a bit of history to correct the imbalanced account:

Hebron

Ottoman rule
Throughout the Ottoman Empire rule, (1517-1917), groups of Jews from other parts of the Holy Land, and exiles from Spain and other parts of the diaspora went and settled there. Hebron at this time became a center of Jewish learning. In 1540 Rabbi Malkiel Ashkenazi bought a courtyard and established the Abraham Avinu Synagogue. In 1807, the Jewish community purchased a 5 dunam (5,000 square metres) plot, upon which the city's wholesale market stands today.

In 1834 Hebron was sacked by the army of Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt. Although property was destroyed and looted, most of the Muslim population is said to have been able to flee. Within the larger sacking there was a pogrom targeted at the city's Jews, five of whom were murdered. In 1841, the population of Hebron was given, according to the number of taxpayers, i.e., male heads of households that owned even a very small shop or piece of land. There were two hundred Jews with "European protections", one Christian household, 41 Jewish households and 1,500 Muslim households, in a total population of 10,000.

Under the British mandate
In December 1917 and during World War I, the British occupied Hebron. In the 1929 Hebron massacre, Arabs killed 67 Jews and wounded 60, and Jewish homes and synagogues were ransacked. Two years later, 35 families moved back into the ruins of the Jewish quarter, but after further riots, the British Government decided to move all Jews out of Hebron "to prevent another massacre". Hebron remained as a part of the British Mandate of Palestine until 1948.

Jordanian rule

Following the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, Jordan took over the control of Hebron and the rest of the West Bank. During this time, Israelis were not allowed to enter the West Bank. The Jewish Quarter was destroyed.

Israeli rule
After the June 1967 Six Day War Hebron came under Israeli control with the rest of the West Bank.

In 1968, a group of Jewish settlers began to reside in the city, though a government compromise soon focused the Jewish presence to the east in the new settlement of Kiryat Arba. Beginning in 1979, Jewish settlers moved from Kiryat Arba to found the Committee of The Jewish Community of Hebron in the former Jewish neighbourhood near the Abraham Avinu Synagogue, and later to other Hebron neighborhoods including (Arab) Tel Rumeida.

Post-Oslo Accord

Since early 1997, following the Hebron Agreement, the city has been divided into two sectors: H1 and H2. The H1 sector, home to around 120,000 Palestinians, came under the control of the Palestinian Authority, in accordance with Hebron Protocol. H2, which was inhabited by around 30,000 Palestinians, remained under Israeli military control in order to protect some 600-800 Jewish residents living in the old Jewish quarter, now an enclave near the center of the town. During the years since the outbreak of the Second Intifada, the Palestinian population in H2 has decreased greatly, the drop in large part having been identified with extended curfews and movement restrictions placed on Palestinian residents of the sector by the IDF for what it says are security needs, including the closing of Palestinian shops in certain areas. Settler harassment of their Palestinian neighbours in H2 was a reason for several dozen Palestinian families to depart the areas adjacent to the Israeli population.

Hebron Jewish community has been subject to many attacks by Palestinian militants since the Oslo agreement, especially during the period of the Second Intifada which saw suicide bombings, stabbings, and thousands of rounds fired on it from the Abu-Sneina neighbourhood above it. 12 Israelis were killed in one ambush of worshippers on the way to the Cave of the Patriarchs, while an infant was killed in a sniper attack. Two Temporary International Presence in Hebron observers were killed by Palestinian gunmen in a shooting attack on the road to Hebron.
In 1994, Israeli physician Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslims at prayer in the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, killing 29, before the survivors overtook and killed him. This event was condemned by the Israeli Government, and the extreme right-wing Kach party of which he was a member was banned as a result.

A year later, Hebron's mayor, Mustafa Abdel Nabi, invited the Christian Peacemaker Teams to assist the local Palestinian community in opposition to what they describe as Israeli military occupation, collective punishment, settler harassment, home demolitions and land confiscation.
- - - - -

Although the destruction of homes and a new clinic seems wrong to me, the Israeli authorities probably will tell you they were built against planning permission.

I hope this adds some perpective & balance to understanding of the mutual hatred and conflict in Hebron.

towards Peace

Jon