Residents of Hebron's Wadi Nasara quarter were stunned at the weekend when they heard that Islamic Jihad killed 12 Israeli soldiers and security men in their neighborhood, and that this attack was the cause of the prolonged shooting that trapped them in their homes for hours. Fear of reprisals by soldiers or settlers dulled the surprise and shock.
One resident of the neighborhood was asked yesterday to identify three bodies strewn on the side of a road. The man was unable to identify any of the corpses. By yesterday evening, none of the three had been identified, Palestinian sources said.
Through the day IDF troops searched houses where residents are suspected of being involved in Islamic Jihad. Closures were enforced on Hebron's Old City area of 20,000 people and other city quarters. Residents left their houses during the day only in the Wadi Nasara area.
These Wadi Nasara residents found it difficult to believe that armed Palestinians managed to gun down so many Israeli security men in their neighborhood, an area that includes "worshipers' lane" that runs between Kiryat Arba and the Cave of the Patriarchs. At least five Israeli observations posts overlook the neighborhood. Through the night, searchlights from these posts flood houses, alleyways and olive trees. On Friday evening and yesterday, when many worshipers walk between Kiryat Arba and the Cave of Patriarchs, the region is filled with soldiers and military vehicles.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the IDF sets up a post on top of Hussam Jabbar's home. The building has three floors, and its roof top provides a clear view of the whole wadi area - it is no wonder the IDF chooses each week to set up searchlights on top of the home. On Friday, soldiers set up their post on top of the Jabbar home at 5:30 P.M. Two hours later residents in the home heard gunfire. Believing that the IDF or soldiers must have opened fire, they headed for one of the corners of the house. The shooting continued, and seemed to escalate. At about 10:00 P.M., they say, alarmed soldiers climbed down from the roof and forced them to crowd into one room. It wasn't until hours later, before dawn, that family members discovered that the Israeli soldiers and security men were killed just some 20 meters from the observation post atop their house.
Family members cannot recall when the shooting stopped - possibly midnight or 1:00 A.M., they say. Around midnight, a bulldozer reached Hamad Jabbar's home (which is located some 30 meters from Humas Jabbar's house). Hamad and his son Najib were alone in the house at the time. Other family members had gone to visit relatives elsewhere in Hebron, only to find it impossible later on to return to their home. IDF soldiers took the father Hamad, 70, and his son outside, and charged that the shooting had emanated from their house. Najib Jabbar noticed the body of a man lying near the door of their house. The father and son denied that gunmen had fired from, or hid in, their house. They were arrested, and taken to some unknown location. Should they be released this morning and returned to Hebron, they will discover that their home has been demolished. The bulldozer razed it in 20 minutes, then it wrecked a house belonging to Hamad's brother, and another house in the area.
Yesterday evening around 6:30, neighborhood residents heard that large army contingents were streaming into Hebron. "The last occupation was a joke compared to this one," many commented.
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