I seem to be following the Mossad. On Thursday I left Ramallah for the first time since my arrival and traveled to Hebron with a coworker to take a delegation of Danish trade unionists to meet with labor unions in the area.
The day before I arrived in Hebron, Israeli forces knocked on a door in the city looking for a young man. Finding him absent, they shot and killed his father and wounded his mother and brother. The mother, who is in her late 60’s, is still in critical condition.
Our first meeting was with the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, which established in 1994 after a settler from New York massacred 29 Palestinians while they were praying in a mosque. The TIPH is a joint effort between six European countries and the Israeli and Palestinian Security forces. Their mandate does not allow them express opinions about the conflict and they may not make their reports of violations of international law pubic.
However, one officer acknowledged that she was “shocked that religion could be used in such a hateful way” when she witnessed the violence of the settlers.
International law states that it is illegal to transfer the population of an occupying force into the territory that it occupies.
But Israel has done little to curb the actions of these wild-west settlers who take over buildings in the middle of the city and intimidate Palestinians with their Uzis.
By far, the most uplifting part of the day was our meeting with the Unemployed Worker Federation. We were greeted with a handmade sign that said: “welcome visitor” when we arrived to their run-down office with no running water. The members of the Federation formed a circle of chairs and my coworker whispered translation in my ear (the Danish workers had direct translation from Arabic to Danish), as we listened to their charismatic president speak about the dire poverty facing Palestinians.
Unemployment rates in Palestine have skyrocketed since the construction of the segregation wall in the West Bank and the complete closure of Gaza. Figures range from 40 to 60%. The Federation in Hebron represents 25,000 unemployed workers formerly employed in Israel. They are funded completely by member contributions and work together to find temporary employment and to help members in need of assistance.
After our meetings, the Danish workers invited us to go to the center of town to see the settlements, but I was with my Palestinian coworker who has a Jenin ID. If he was caught in Hebron, where Israeli soldiers routinely do illegal ID checks of Palestinians, he would likely be detained or arrested.
Posted By Eliza Bates
Posted Jun 13th, 2007