Enemy Territory

Two women were wounded last Wednesday by Palestinian gunfire in Hebron. One, according to reports, is in serious condition; the other sustained moderate injuries.

Two women were wounded last Wednesday by Palestinian gunfire in Hebron. One, according to reports, is in serious condition; the other sustained moderate injuries. Both women went to Hebron, together with a few thousand more Jews, to fulfill the commandment of the three pilgrimages. A stage was set up near the Tomb of the Patriarchs for performances and the pilgrims made their way there - until the shooting started. The gunfire came from the neighborhood known as Abu Sneina, known for the battles the Israel Defense Forces fights with its residents, known for the settlers' demand to reoccupy it, and known as enemy territory.

Once could perhaps think that Abu Sneina was different from all the other neighborhoods in Hebron, which has about 100,000 residents. But if the shooting hadn't come from Abu Sneina, it could have come from Harat al-Sheikh, or the area of the cemetery in the town, or maybe from the private homes along Shalala Fuka Street or Shalala Tahta Street, or maybe from inside the Casbah.

There are many neighborhoods in this Arab city; and there are no lovers of Zionism in any of them. Reoccupying one neighborhood, as the settlers are demanding, won't help to put an end to the shooting. It will spread to other neighborhoods and come from new directions, and maybe even from more effective weapons. In fact, the demand to reoccupy Abu Sneina is a bluff. It's not Abu Sneina that the settlers want reoccupied; it's all of Hebron.

What isn't a bluff is the fact that Hebron is an enemy city in an enemy country and as such, it is no different to Nablus, Jenin or Baghdad. There are religious reasons to occupy each one of these cities, to live in them, or to conduct seasonal rituals in them. Unfortunately, each one is in the hands of the enemy.

Hebron, however, is different, for one reason: the number of Jewish residents living there - about 400 in the center of the town, a few dozen in Tel Romeida and a few thousand in Kiryat Arba. This creates the illusion that it's a viable settlement, one which, without a few IDF battalions, could continue to exist as if it was just another town in Israel, like Kfar Sava or Binyamina.

The Hebron agreement signed by former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu may have created a Jewish enclave in the town and may have divided it into specific areas of control; but the underlying condition for this deal was that it would be a part of an overall agreement - not a separate agreement between the Israeli authorities and the Hebron city fathers, and not a separate agreement between the settlers and the Arabs.

The idea that the Hebron agreement can be detached from the reality in the territories, to demand that the town be maintained irrespective of what happens in the West Bank or the Gaza Strip, is, of course, an illusion. And this is without even taking into consideration the special character of the Jewish residents of Hebron and their scheming to take over the town.

This raises the issue of the responsibility, or better yet, the irresponsibility in allowing thousands of Jews to go to Hebron to celebrate Sukkot. Anyone familiar with the topography and the structure of the neighborhoods in the city knows that there was no way to provide full protection for Jews visiting the city at this time. Protection can be offered only, and only partially, to those inside the Jewish ghetto, in the Avraham Avinu apartment block or Beit Hadassah.

Why were Jews given permission - and who gave it - to walk through the line of crossfire? Was the fear that the Hebron settlers would protest the reason for allowing the public Sukkot celebrations in the city?

Would anyone allow Jews to make pilgrimages nowadays to the birthplace of Abraham the Patriarch in Ur Kasdim; or rebuild Joseph's Tomb in Nablus? Would the major general of the central command allow the settlers of Kedumim or Ofra to go on a hike nowadays in the hills of Samaria? Why were Jews allowed to go to Hebron, a dangerous city, where there's a war raging daily?