The First Episode – written by Chelli S., a courageous young American woman who has visited occupied Palestine and lived in my homeland Hebron, from where I was expelled in 2002. She lived in the center of the city which is occupied by about 400 militant extremist American and European jewish colonists protected by over 5000 israeli war criminal soldiers.
Chelli moved between Tel Rumeida, the highest hill with olive fields in Hebron, which is registered in the UNESCO as historical heritage, and occupied by American terrorists from the Kach movement lead by Baruch Marzel and his wife, and Al-Shuhada street where the US colonists occupied the Al-Daboia Clinic and turned it into the “Beit Hadassa” settlement where the US citizen Noam Federman and other Kach terrorists settled. During Chelli’s stay in Hebron, she became part of the Palestinian daily life and observed the horror of the jewish colonialism in city. After her return to the US, she wrote episodes of her observations in which she simply described the life under occupation.
What Chelli wrote is contrary to the statements of her arrogant government, which provides unequivocal support to Israel zionists and to the herds of American jewish colonists, who left the US to live a life of unrelenting criminality in the heart of Hebron and the occupied West Bank, aiming at the destruction of the Palestinian civil society, stealing our land, prosperity, stability, security, freedom, peace and independence. Below is the first episode of Chelli, which will be followed by others.
The legality of colonialism is a ruse. The only laws of colonialism are violence, theft, and impunity. I learned this lesson well in Tel Rumeida, Hebron, Palestine, where violence will greet you at any time, where you will see sights you had not been able, in your finite existence, to imagine. In Tel Rumeida, the violent and hectic state created, maintained, and fostered by the colonial Israeli armed forces is, to the best I can describe, a chaotic circus of Hell. Human rights abuses against the Palestinian community are a constant part of life, and the full impunity for these crimes adds to the weight of the day.
In Tel Rumeida, the large hill in the middle of Hebron and the birthplace of the city, you will find the gamut of armed Israeli colonial forces. They are all there for one purpose: to make the lives of the Palestinian families of Tel Rumeida into a living hell in the attempt to force them to leave the area.
How can you describe the things you see there?
To give an idea of the situation for the fifty Palestinian families who remain living in this historic area, I will describe the gamut of colonial forces constantly present in their neighborhood. There are teenage male Israeli soldiers standing 24 hours a day in the streets, as well as on people’s roofs. Numerous military cameras throughout the area film people constantly, and there is also a military base housing hundreds of soldiers. There are border police who come at any time and station themselves somewhere with the sole purpose of harassing Palestinian community members. There are “special police,” big older men who basically get their name from being prone to extreme violence. There are “DCO,” men in white jeeps who know your name without ever having met you, who try to talk to you; who threaten your colleagues.
There are regular Israeli police who drive through numerous times a day, but who will never come to assist you when you call them because you are being attacked. These police officers make a career out of Colonial Occupation: lies, threats, torture, and false imprisonment. There are also the colonial Israeli settlers living in two small colonial settlements, the so-called “Ramot Yishai” and “Beit Hadassah,” who are infamous for their violence and rabid racism, and who operate with full impunity and free money from the United States and Israel. (Click on the picture to make it bigger).
All of these groups are present in Tel Rumeida at any time of the day or night. You will always find the colonial Israeli soldiers and settlers there, and the other groups add themselves to the mix routinely to foster the hell in which Palestinian community members are forced to live.
For myself, I saw many things while I was in Tel Rumeida and I heard much history of what had happened before. It is impossible for me to list these things in this short article. What I witnessed there, day after day, was ethnic cleansing and genocide. I, like many others, found these sights and the hell on earth so difficult to bear. It brought me many sleepless nights and much grief, and has changed me profoundly.
I learned about impunity in Tel Rumeida. I saw its face, I knew its horror, I felt its weight. No matter what happened, it would not be prosecuted, and you would pass the attackers in the street morning, noon, and night. I learned that money buys impunity, and I saw how the United States government uses its citizen’s tax dollars to buy impunity and silence for the crimes it pays for daily.
I saw the United States standing in Palestine, not only in the form of money, but also in the form of colonial settlers, police, and soldiers. Once, when a colonial Israeli soldier demanded to know which country I was from, I told him, and he replied with a smile, “I love the United States. They gave me this gun.” The teenaged soldier held up his M-16. Many of the most violent colonial settlers in Hebron are from the United States, and I remember arguing with a colonial settler and soldier about a human rights crime that had just occurred in the street, and realized we were all from the US … I have recently understood that I, as a human rights worker, also represented the United States in the form of its people who are disgusted by the lies, deceit, and constant war mongering of our government.
I learned about another force very much at play in world politics that of our governments’ secret services, those paid-off people who work to disrupt, destroy, divide, and slander human rights, social change, and media work all over the world. I learned that this secret force must be made known and universally condemned, so that we know what we are up against as people of conscience, and so that we can move forward as people who long to live in a more just world.
As international human rights workers in Tel Rumeida, we documented at least a thousand crimes against humanity in a short period. These included Palestinian children being falsely arrested and imprisoned, Palestinian mothers being attacked in their homes, Palestinian men being beaten in the streets, Palestinian children who could no longer play outside because they would assuredly be attacked every time, Palestinian families who were forbidden by the Israeli army to lock the door to their homes, the entire community being forced to pass through a metal detector checkpoint operated by Israeli soldiers who could adjust its strength every time they wanted to go the store, work, school, home… If I were to attempt to list the atrocities that have happened in Hebron, it would a task at which I would work the rest of my life to do. As many Palestinians say in Hebron, “It is impossible to describe what has happened here.”
As international HRWs working in Hebron, we often intervened to make ourselves the target of attacks that were directed at Palestinian community members. We were constantly aware that we were not welcome there by the colonial Israeli enterprise, and that our governments really could not or, as in my case, would not do anything to protect us. We were attacked routinely by the colonial settlers; we were threatened by the Israeli police who repeatedly falsely arrested us and tried to have us deported; and we were often attacked by the Israeli soldiers, who also stole our video cameras and erased the footage of their crimes.
I often asked the other HRWs working in Tel Rumeida about what their impressions were and references to Nazis were common as we all saw the living Holocaust of the modern-day situation in Palestine. Every person whom I showed videos from Tel Rumeida of these human rights abuses reacted with disgust and dismay, anger, sadness, and disbelief. Most of these people are United States citizens.
Tel Rumeida is a closed off area. No Palestinian vehicles are allowed, no ambulances. Ten percent of its population remains, and there is only one small store in a place that was full of thriving businesses. Still, many Palestinian families remain in this area and have fought through hell to stay, and to raise strong and kind children. I remember one community member of Tel Rumeida who stated the obvious and beautiful. He said, “If we begin to hate like them, we also lose our culture. So we will not hate, but we will stay.”
It is difficult to describe the contrasts of kindness and hatred that you will find in this way in Palestine, but it is there in a strong way that begs to be noticed. While the occupying side degenerates into frothing hatred, many Palestinians rise to higher and higher moral planes.
As a United States citizen, one of the most difficult things to bear about Palestine is the fact that it would not be happening without the actions of my government. I believe the United States government must be continually condemned for its actions in Palestine, and must be forced to stop.