Divided Hebron suffers the legacy of settler's massacre

Only 20 Muslims were praying or sitting cross legged reading the Koran in the Tomb of the Patriarchs yesterday, a year after the Israeli settler, Baruch Goldstein, killed 29 worshippers with repeated bursts of automatic fire. Outside Israeli soldiers were checking the identity of a trickle of visitors who pass through two metal detecting gates before they enter the 700-year-old Mamluk al-Ibrahimi mosque.

Goldstein, a Brooklyn-born army reserve captain, was killed by survivors of the massacre but, had he survived, he would probably have been pleased by the results of his attack. The mass killing - and the failure of the government to act against the settlers in Hebron - punctured the optimism which followed the Oslo agreement of 1993. It was the first of a series of spectacularly violent events, the latest of which was the Beit Lid bombing on 22 January, as a result of which relations between Palestinians and Israelis have reached a new low.

In theory the Tomb of the Patriarchs, where Abraham, Isaac and Jacob lie buried with their wives, is open again, but anybody wanting to get there has to negotiate seven Israeli checkpoints. Uninviting at the best of times, Hebron was yesterday shut tight as shopkeepers closed their steel shutters in response to a general strike called to mark the anniversary of the massacre.

The Israeli army fears the strike may not be the only event planned to mark the slaughter which, by the Muslim calendar took place on 15 Ramadan (25 February by western dating). For weeks the Israeli press has speculated that the Islamic militants of Hamas, who say their suicide bombing campaign is a response to the Hebron massacre, will make another spectacular attack to mark the anniversary.

Israeli troops are on alert throughout the country but nowhere more than in Hebron itself. Overnight two Palestinians were wounded by soldiers at al-Fawar refugee camp to the south. Yesterday morning,on the main road from Jerusalem, just 15 miles north, long lines of trucks and cars were waiting to be checked at a guard post, close to a large sign which read: "Welcome to Hebron."

As the line failed to move, drivers became impatient and tried to bypass the checkpoint by using a track which wandered up and down the steep hills overlooking the city. The Israelis had anticipated this and blocked the back road with rubble and concrete, but it was just possible to squeeze between the end of the barricade and the last corner house.

We gave a lift to a Palestinian named Fayad, who said was unemployed but had worked on a building site in Israel until the border was closed after Beit Lid. He said that because of the checks "only 1 per cent of the people in Hebron can get to the mosque". He warned us to be careful, saying: "My uncle, Tallal al-Bakri, was shot dead when he drove through a checkpoint manned by settlers last year."

On a hill on the eastern side of Hebron are the tall white apartment blocks of the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, where Baruch Goldstein lived for 10 years before he walked down the hill with his automatic rifle a year ago. after the massacre, the celebrations of the 7,000 settlers - famed for their chauvinism - further poisoned relations, if that were possible, with the 150,000 Palestinians who live in the rest of the city. A memorial service for Goldstein planned for this week will not improve matters. An organiser said yesterday Kiryat Arba would remember "a man murdered by an Arab mob". T-shirts printed with his face are for sale.

Inside the al-Ibrahimi mosque Yusuf Sharif, who has guided visitors around the building since the British Mandate, nervously points to the green doors, now firmly shut, through which Goldstein stepped to make his attack. He is happier showing the supposed entrance to the Cave of Machpelah, long sealed off, which Abraham bought from Ephron the Hittite as a burial place for 400 silver shekels.

The custodians of the mosque have painted over the bullet marks. Israeli soldiers have installed metal detector gates. But it is too late. The patrols and checkpoints, fitted to stop another suicide bomber, show that the cycle of violence which started when Baruch Goldstein fired into the backs of worshippers in Hebron has not yet ended.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Account Manager (Junior)

Negotiable: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Account Manager (Junior) Account ...

Javascript Developer

£40000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a...

Solar Business Development Manager – M&A

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Lead IOs Andriod Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Lead Applic...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried