Peace hopes die in Hebron cauldron
As Israel hardens its line, the Palestinians are responding in kind, writes Patrick Cockburn
Patrick Cockburn is an Irish journalist who has been a Middle East correspondent since 1979 for the Financial Times and, presently, The Independent. He was awarded Foreign Commentator of the Year at the 2013 Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards.
Wednesday 09 April 1997
"Will he survive?" asks Dr Abu Maid, director of hospitals on the West Bank. "It will be difficult. And if he does, he will be paralysed. The bullet is lodged too close to the brain." Another Palestinian, his name still unknown, died from a rubber bullet in the eye a few hours earlier in the hospital.
Dr Abu Maid said a further 91 Palestinians were treated for lesser injuries in the riots which erupted in central Hebron yesterday. The trouble started when two Jews studying at a yeshiva (religious college) maintained by Israeli settlers in Hebron shot dead Assam Rashid Arabeh, 23, in the vegetable market of the old city.
They said he fired tear-gas or threw acid at them. Other Palestinians said the students asked Mr Arabeh why he was staring at them. Dissatisfied with his answer, one of them fired a single shot into his chest. As he was buried in Hebron yesterday afternoon, mourners shouted: "Let the olive branch fall and the gun rise."
It was not a good day for the olive branch or for any other symbol of peace. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, returned from Washington after telling President Bill Clinton that construction at Har Homa, known to Arabs as Jasbal Abu Ghneim, and other Jewish settlements will continue. "When I walk in Jerusalem I feel as though I am walking in the place where King David strolled," Mr Netanyahu told a meeting of fundamentalist American Christians. "We will build in Jerusalem. It is our right. It is our obligation." He mocked journalists who talked about "Arab east Jerusalem" (in fact, all Israeli settlements on occupied territory, including east Jerusalem, are illegal under Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention).
In Hebron, casualty figures were rising all morning. Since January, the city has been partitioned between 120,000 Palestinians and 400 Jewish settlers. At the bottom of Shalala street, where Nader Adel el-Saad was shot in the eye, teenagers stoned Israeli troops, who responded with rubber bullets and stun grenades. For once, perhaps because the wind was in the wrong direction, there was no tear-gas. On the Palestinian side of the dividing line, Palestinian police with gas masks, but no other equipment, waved their hands ineffectually to persuade the rioters to pull back. They were met with volleys of stones. In an alleyway off Shalala street the rioters, who were aggressive though not very numerous, stormed the line of Palestinian police, at least one of whom had a bandage on his head after an earlier attempt to stop the stoning. Some of the shopkeepers optimistically tried to stay open as the fighting swirled around them. The owner of the Annasser restaurant, peeping nervously over mounds of yellow rice and bubbling stews to see what was happening in the street, said: "This has been going on for 20 days now. The primary schools are all closed. My younger son is out throwing stones, but not the older one."
It may be that the Jewish settlers are being more aggressive because they sense that the Oslo accords of 1993, which they have always detested, are dissolving. On Monday a settler from Dolev settlement, near Ramallah, was arrested by Israeli police after opening fire and seriously wounding a Palestinian with his rifle. He said his car had been hit by stones.
The settlers are probably right about the fate of the peace accords.
Their basis was peace for land. But Mr Netanyahu made it clear in Washington that he is not prepared to give up much land on the West Bank and none at all in Jerusalem.
He has also offered to scrap the present interim phase of the Oslo accords. Instead, he would discuss a final agreement with the Palestinians. The US and Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader, are wary of this, seeing it as an attempt by Mr Netanyahu not to end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, which was the objective of the interim agreement.
Newcastle manager taunted again as his side loses to Stoke
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 2 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before a character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 Pope Francis assures atheists: You don’t have to believe in God to go to heaven
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wedding: The famous congratulate actor and human rights lawyer after Venice nuptials
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£40 per day + Travel Scheme : Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: Our client ...
NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...
£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curre...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: You must:- Speak English as a first lang...