This article was published in a Dutch newspaper in 1996.
I found it in my
archives and decided to publish it here on my website. This is the English
translation of the original article.
Palestinian flag like a red rag for settlers
Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians
about a follow-up autonomy treaty have broken down on the question-Hebron.
Israel refuses to evacuate the several hundreds of settlers who live in
the old Jewish district. “Here the Jews are always right.”
18 SEPT. “Piece
of shit, get lost. You dog, go away, go, go…” screams a jewish woman
at Beit Hadassah, a house where some tens of Israeli settlers live in the
old Jewish center of Hebron, to the Palestinian journalist Kawther Salam.
The journalist herself comes from this city on the still occupied West
bank of the Jordan, where Israeli and Palestinians are after each
other’s blood. For this outburst and its aftermath was not any reason.
To probe the feelings of the settlers on the day that
the Israeli minister of foreign affairs, Shimon Peres, and the Palestinian
leader Yasser Arafat in Taba should have broken the deadlock in the negotiations on autonomy for Hebron, I
and my Palestinian companion had a conversation with a settler at an
Israeli military post near Beit Hadassah. Before the man was able to explain why he doesn’t see
anything in the Israeli-Palestinian conversations in Taba, women came
screaming to the military post which is made of concrete blocks.
“Don’t speak with that journalist!” After that the anger directs
itself to the Palestinian woman. “Move on”, says a soldier at the
post. “This becomes a riot. You actually should not be here”. Later it
turned out that the area had been declared closed territory by the
military authorities. Diagonally opposite Beit Hadassah is the Kurtuba
school, an elementary school for Palestinian girls where last week
occurred rather serious incidents, when women from Beit Hadassah tried
there to pull down the Palestinian flag and intruded violently the school
building. Shortly after we entered the room of the manager of the school,
the substitute military governor of Hebron let us know by phone that we
had to get out immediately. If we did not obey this order, then we
would be arrested. Kawther Salam, it was said, intended to pull up the
Palestinian flag on the school again. The substitute governor was aiming
obviously at this Palestinian journalist, after she had complained by him
by phone about the insults she had to deal with at Beit Hadassah. She had
no Palestinian flag hidden in her small white bag.
On suggestion of
the Israeli occupation authorities the
Palestinian flag doesn’t blow anymore at the front side of the school,
but on the terrace behind the room of the manager, after a high wall, out
of the sight of the settlers. “Since 1 September 1994 we have the right
to put out the Palestinian flag on all schools at the West Bank”, says
Rajid Ja’abari, director of the Department of Education in Hebron. “At
220 schools in the city the Palestinian flag blows. Only here we have
trouble, because the military administration surrenders to the settlers.”
(Continued: Hebron, page 4)