Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

18 Teves 5766 - January 18, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











IDF Closes Down Hebron in Response to Violent Protests

by M Plaut and Yated Ne'eman Staff

For the last six days there was steady violent protest by Jews in Hebron in response to orders issued by the authorities to evacuate Jews who have been living in the city's marketplace for the past four years. In the course of the demonstrations Jews, many of them nonresidents, threw eggs and paint at security forces, verbally abused the IDF and police, and set fire to buildings according to some media reports. In response, on Tuesday the IDF declared the entire area a closed military zone, including the approach roads. Police set up roadblocks to keep out new arrivals, and began to move in to arrest and expel nonresidents. The IDF said that there are no special restrictions on entrance to Mearas Hamachpelah.

So far, a total of at least 22 demonstrators were arrested in the past few days, at least 15 of whom were minors.

IDF sources said that Hebron residents were informed last week that there were no plans to evacuate the families this week. According to security officials, the evacuation of illegal outposts in Samaria would take precedence and this has not taken place yet.

Judea and Samaria Police stated that they would not hesitate to use tear gas and forces mounted on horseback to control the violence.

Yesha Council Chairman Benzi Lieberman called on the violent youth to be expelled from the city. He said that by their actions they were obscuring the real debate regarding the evacuation.

Early Monday morning, some 200 protesters — many of them masked — threw stones, bottles and paint at police forces in Hebron. Police declared the rally illegal and quickly removed the demonstrators. Some 250 police officers later streamed into Hebron on Monday. Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi ordered police to reinforce the large number of security forces present since the riots began. Some 150 police officers are stationed 24 hours a day near Mearas Hamachpelah.

As of Tuesday morning, there were more members of the media than demonstrators at the Jewish neighborhood in Avraham Ovinu in Hebron.

On Tuesday afternoon, some 20 right-wing activists blocked the entrance to Jerusalem to protest the ongoing events in Hebron. Police forcibly removed the protesters after several minutes and arrested two of them.

The IDF Spokesman said that all nonresidents of Hebron's Jewish quarter would be denied entry until January 22. The army would grant authorization to those who have special reasons to enter the city, the army said.

Dep.-Cmdr. Shlomo Efrati, a senior Hebron police officer, said that the violent demonstrations in the city had been well planned, and that organized transport had brought hundreds of demonstrators to the city.

Following the Mearas Hamachpelah massacre in 1994 by Dr. Baruch Goldstein, Palestinians fled the market area in question. The army barred them from moving back after the outbreak of the intifadah in September 2000. In 2001, eight settler families occupied stores in the market in response to the murder of Shalhevet Pass, an infant who was shot in her father's arms by a sniper.

While it is acknowledged that the buildings are located on Jewish-owned land, the families living there failed to prove ownership in a series of petitions to the High Court of Justice. This led to orders from Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to issue eviction notices to the families, who were given until January 15 to leave the premises on their own.

Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took a very determined stance, saying that continued violence would not be condoned and that anyone who raised a hand against a soldier or a policeman would be severely punished. The events may prove the first test of Olmert's mettle and abilities as a commander. Unlike Sharon, a battle-tested commander and strategist, Olmert never served at a high level in the army. Olmert is also viewed by the Right with much more suspicion than Sharon was.

Police also expressed their determination. "If the need arises," Commissioner Karadi said, "I will order the deployment of an additional 1,000 policemen to Hebron or however many policemen it takes to restore order."


All material on this site is copyrighted and its use is restricted.
Click here for conditions of use.