Photographer's Note

Getting Down With The IDF in Hebron

History runs deep in the country formerly known as Palestine – the remnants of which are now referred to by many as the ‘Occupied Territories’. The development of the nation of Israel resulted in major consequences for the inhabitants of many communities on the seaward side of the Green Line. An English friend has recently photographically documented many of the abandoned and bulldozed villages of the Palestinians with some of the young descendants of those displaced. Some villages have become turned into parks, others have new developments over them, some are just desolate.

The ageing occupants of the refugee camps in the West Bank hope still that one day they may return to their homes…….but the sad photographs of their grandchildren tell the story that those homes are no longer there. It is sad for the children too because they have been brought up on the story of return. Whatever side you are on the realities are harsh.....these issues remain an obstacle, one of many, to peace in lands where I have friends on both sides.

The death toll of Palestinian civilians, and especially that of children is quite shocking. Every death in this conflict is shocking, but for a modern army, which apparently prides itself on the care it takes not to harm civilians, to kill so many children, so many more than the despicable and ‘indiscriminate’ attacks of the Palestinian bombers, the rocketers and gunmen is little short of criminal.

These smiling happy guys in the photograph are doing a job of patrolling and guarding the no mans land at the old heart of Hebron – 2,000 troops to guard 500 hardcore ‘settlers’ and a community that has been relatively abandoned as a result – many thousands more Palestinians displaced. In a way they are protecting both sides but it might be hard to find a Palestinian who might believe that.....they have their reasons.

We are a stones throw from the tomb of Abraham – it is separated in two – one half for Jewish residents and visitors, one for Arabs. On February 25, 1994. Baruch Goldstein, an Israeli-American settler (an off-duty IDF army reservist and doctor) opened fire on the Muslim worshippers. According to Israeli reports 29 Palestinians were killed and 125 wounded, while Palestinian sources stated that up to 52 people were shot to death. Goldstein was also killed in the attack. Israel harshly condemned the attack and paid compensation to the families of the victims.

These are the ‘official’ dead of that day.

AbdelHak Ibrahim AbdelHak Al Ja'bari, 55
AbdelRahim AbdelRahman Abu Sneineh, 48
Ahmad Aballah Mohammad Taha Abu Sneineh, 25
Ala' Badr AbdelHalim Taha Abu Sneineh, 17
Arafat Musa Yosef Borkan, 28
Eyyad Hussein AbdelAziz Abuhadid Abu Sneineh, 22
Hatem Nimr Khader Al Fakhouri, 26
Kamal Jamal AbdelMughni Kafeisheh, 13
Khaled Khalawi A. Hussein Abu Sneineh, 58
Khaled Mohammad Hamzeh Al Karaki, 18
Jameel Ayed AbdelFattah Al Natshih, 48
Jabr A'aref AbuHadid Abu Sneineh, 11
Mahmoud Saddek Mohammad Abu Za'nooneh, 49
Marwan Mutlaq Hamid Abu Nijmih, 32
Mohammad Ayyed Izzat Elatrash Abu Sneineh, 21
Mohammad Kifah AbdelMuiz Zakaria Maraka, 11
Mohammad Raji Zein AbdelKhalek Gheith, 47
Mohammad Zeidan Hammoudah AbdelMajeed Jaber, 26
Nimr Mohammad Nimr Mojahed, 34
Raed Abdel Muttaleb Hasan Al Natshih, 20
Rami Arafat Ali Al Rajabi, 11
Saber Musa Husni Katbeh Badr, 37
Salim Idreis Falah Idreis, 27
Salman Awwad E'layyan Al Ja'bari, 37
Sufian Barakat O'of Zahdeh, 21
Talal Mohammad Dawud Mahmoud Dandeis, 26
Tareq Adnan Mohammad A'ashour Abu Sneineh, 14
Wael Salah Ya'kub Al Muhtaseb, 28
Walid Zuheir Mahfooth Abu Hamdieh, 13

I think it is important to name them.

Allegedly four of the soldiers meant to be guarding the tomb were late and no officer was present. It also appears from the reports that Goldstein created more casualties through gunshot wounds than the amount of ammunition he was carrying. Do your own maths and explore your own theories! Accounts that he also threw grenades have been discounted by detailed investigations.

Hebron is such a sad place – a high profile example in a diminished land with a near subjugated people under the constant and increasing stranglehold of siege....both sides in Hebron are under siege...but then this is meant to be Palestinian land. As someone brought up to support Israel, as someone fed one side of the story for most of my life to see the realities and learn the more of the truths of what is happening is truly shocking. I cannot help but think it a stain on all the governments who are one way or another complicit in it, including my own.

A poll of 500 Israeli adults for the International Centre for Peace in the Middle East found that 78.8 percent of people condemned the Hebron massacre. A small minority - under 4% expressed support for it - the hard-liners on both sides have so much to answer for too.

stevev1, bogart, delic, Bergenphotos ha puntuado esta nota como útil.

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Additional Photos by Kev Ryan (KevRyan) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1784 W: 193 N: 5128] (22956)
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