Murder adds to Hamas support

'ARAFAT is no good. He gave up the gun. The people here support Hamas. They support violence against the Jews, the scum of the earth. They support an Islamic solution.'

Abed, a 50-year-old merchant, spoke huddled in his grocery store in semi-darkness, surrounded by his family. The store gates were bolted against the deathly quiet of the streets outside, where only army trucks occasionally rumbled past.

The family were sitting out a curfew, clamped on Hebron since Sunday when news broke that an Israeli border guard, Nissim Toledano, had been kidnapped by Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement. It was to be expected that Hebron, on the Israeli-occupied West Bank, would be swiftly punished for the kidnapping, which ended on Tuesday with the discovery of the border guard's stabbed body.

Like the Gaza strip, Hebron is a Hamas stronghold. Until four years ago the town was largely the territory of Fatah, the mainstream of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. But seeking out the underdog in the underdog town, Hamas has gained ground, winning six out of 11 seats in recent chamber of commerce elections.

'People are poor here. They go to the mosques for comfort. They keep old customs. They read the Koran. Palestinians in Jerusalem have forgotton the Koran and become like Jews,' said Asmi, 25, a construction worker. 'Now Hamas has proved they are strong. People here will support them more.'

The curfew and the mass arrests have only inflamed the new support for Hamas. 'There is nobody here who does not support the killing of the Israeli. Anyone who does should himself be killed. We suffer from these bastards. They take our land then they come and shout at us in the night like barking dogs,' said Abed. 'Violence is the only way now until we die. The negotiations in Washington are another plot to eliminate the Palestinians.'

The curfew, with its army checkpoints and spiked bars on roads, has severed Hebron, just 20 miles south of Jerusalem, from its hinterland. The closer to the town, the quieter it becomes. In the centre, soldiers swing guns at passers- by and scowl.

The 550 or so Jews who live among the 65,000 Arabs are allowed free passage and take advantage of the shuttered Arab shops to spray Stars of David.

They are the settler radical fringe, come to restore a Jewish presence in Judaism's second holiest city, the site where Abraham is buried. It is in the Ibrahmi mosque, built over that site, that Hamas has found so many willing followers.

'At 10pm on Sunday the jeeps came,' said Abed. 'They said 'don't leave your homes until further notice'.' Hebron is used to curfews but this is the strictest they remember. For the first time the bakeries have been shut down.

Abed has no permit to trade under curfew. But people close by sneak out to buy provisions. Now he has run out of flour, he says.

'When the curfew came everyone in the neighbourhood bought two chickens from the supermarket, but his permit was taken away. We don't know what has happened to the owner now,' said Abed, as an elderly man banged on the gates outside, asking for tea.

The children have not gone to school, the adults have lost pay because they are not working. Abed's brother, Ahmad, said he was planning to skirt the roadblocks to get to his job in east Jerusalem.

The curfew means there is little to do but talk. They talk a lot about Nissim Toledano. Khaled, 10, says there was no choice but to kill the border guard. 'When the deadline passed . . . ' and then he chopped his hand smartly downwards and giggled to his friends.

They also talk a lot about the arrests in Hebron that followed. 'They just take anybody they can find. People arrested for throwing stones during the intifada - they pick them up again.'

Sitting among the cans of tomatoes and the boxes of tissues, wearing dressing-gowns to keep out the cold, they also talk about an Islamic state.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Sport
Louis van Gaal
football
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jay Z has placed a bet on streaming being the future for music and videos
music
Arts and Entertainment
Festival-goers soak up the atmosphere at Glastonbury
music
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own