A decision has been made - it is unclear by whom - to open a main road in the Jewish Community of Hevron to Arab traffic. MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) says in protest: “Lethal experiments with humans is banned.”
The road in question is partly a winding route linking the Kiryat Arba-Beit HaShalom area with the sacred Machpelah Cave [Patriarchs' Cave] and central parts of the Jewish Community in the holy city of Hevron. It is largely used on the Sabbath by Jewish pedestrians on their way to the Machpelah Cave, but Arab motorists will now be allowed to use it as well.
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) responded to the decision: “Experiments with human beings are forbidden by the Helsinki Convention and by Israeli and international law. Experiments like this in the past in Hevron have ended with deaths, of both Jews and Arabs.”
The order to open the road to Arab traffic is expected to be signed later this week by the IDF’s Judea and Samaria Division Commander and the Central Command O.C. However, it is not clear if the decision originated with the army, the Defense Ministry or the government.
"Life-Threatening Political Decisions"
Either way is unacceptable, the residents of the Jewish Community of Hevron say. Spokesman David Wilder says, “Since when are army officers permitted to make political decisions? Or, alternatively, is it [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak who, in his waning days in office after being told good-bye by the electorate, who is making life-threatening decisions?”
“People here are up in arms at this news,” Wilder added, "quite understandably. It is hard to know what some people’s reactions might be when they find their lives endangered by either a lame-duck defeated Defense Minister or IDF officers making unauthorized decisions to further their own political agenda.”
King David St. and Stores, Too
The residents say that the bad news doesn’t end there, and that there is also talk of opening King David St. (Shuhada), linking the Machpelah Cave, Beit Hadassah, and Admot Yishai (Tel Romeida) to Arab traffic. More than 100 Arab-owned stores on the street that have been closed due to security concerns are liable to be re-opened as well.
“The outgoing Kadima government is apparently very interested in a renewed bloodbath in Judea and Samaria,” Eldad said, “and it is preparing time bombs to be detonated during the term of the Netanyahu government. This also explains why the Kadima government is planning to release hundreds of terrorists and murderers [in exchange for Gilad Shalit].”
Eldad said the government is “forsaking the blood of the Jews of Hevron by opening the only through-road in the Jewish ghetto to murderers. This is a Hamas city… The victims’ blood will be upon the heads of Olmert, Barak and Livni.”
Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, scheduled to enter the Knesset next week on the National Union list, similarly scathingly attacked the decision: “This is a genuine security danger, and means forsaking the Jewish residents to the murderers. Barak has no authority to do this, and he is ignoring the voters’ decision to send him home.”
Army Radio interviewer Razi Barkai asked MK Eldad, “Doesn’t this decision show that there is a calm and that there can really be co-existence?” Eldad countered, “If there really is a calm, then let them open the whole city to Jews. Rather, this shows that there is calm only where the IDF is present.”
Neither Barkai nor Eldad seemed to be sure who made the decision. Barkai said, “I believe this is not a government decision but was made by the IDF’s Civil Adminstration.” Eldad said he doesn't think so: “As far as I know, you can’t close off a porch there without a government decision. It’s very naïve to think that the government is not involved.”
Netanyahu and Begin
Ironically, it was Binyamin Netanyahu – widely believed to be Israel’s next Prime Minister – who, in his previous term as Prime Minister, signed the Hevron Agreement in 1997 giving most of the city to the Palestinian Authority. Then-Minister Benny Begin resigned in protest of the agreement.
Wilder noted that several years ago “the last time they tried something like this, they removed a checkpoint along this route, somewhat to the north – and the same day, two Jews (David Cohen and Chezy Muallem) were murdered by terrorists, in two different spots. The terrorists knew that they could drive into Jewish areas, murder Jews, and drive back home with no fear of being stopped at a checkpoint.”
It was reported last week that the IDF had announced it would remove two checkpoints blocking Arab traffic near Jewish areas – near Dolev and near Hevron. The decision was made as a “gesture” to the Arab population that did not riot during the days of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.