Tense Quiet in Hevron, Now the Stories Come Out

Police harassment of Jews in Hevron is not a new phenomenon. Long-time residents David Shirel and Shani Horowitz tell their harrowing stories of the past two days.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 4:46 PM

With police and army forces walking freely around buildings and onto private porches and roofs, the feeling in Hevron is that the unrest of the past few days is not yet over. "I just had a few moments of great tension," one resident told Arutz-7 at around 5 PM today, "when a rumor went around that it's about to happen - the police are coming to take us and throw us out. But then we heard that it wasn't true, so we have another short respite..."

By order of Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, the army and police are in fact set to throw 11 families out of their homes in Jewish-owned land in the ancient Jewish Quarter of Hevron. One of those families, the Shlissels, has turned to the Beit Shemesh Magistrates Court, demanding - and receiving - a temporary stay. The Shlissels maintains that a family that is about to be thrown out of its home deserves a legal hearing - and that, contrary to popular perception, this has not been done.

"The famous Supreme Court case that everyone is talking about," said Rabbi Yisrael Shlissel, "did not rule that we must be thrown out. Rather, Arabs turned to the Court against us, and the Court asked the State what its position was, and the State said it would throw us out. This was not a Court decision, but rather a State decision - specifically by Menachem Mazuz."

The State claims that the Beit Shemesh Court has no jurisdiction in the case. A ruling is expected today or tomorrow.

As the tense suspense continues, Arutz-7 heard two stories of police harassment in Hevron. David Shirel, a 25-year-veteran of Hevron, told Arutz-7 this story:

"My 14-year-old daughter is accused, apparently of actually throwing an egg, six months ago, that landed near an Arab. For this, the police have come no fewer than four times in the past two weeks with a warrant for her immediate arrest - and turned our house upside-down in the process. The last time was yesterday evening, though the other times they came at 6:00 in the morning. They come with around 30-40 policemen who stand around the building, and about 7-8 of them come inside, and basically cause hysteria. They push us around, cause the kids to scream - and basically begin to humiliate us. In the course of looking for our 14-year-old daughter, they look in the refrigerator, the vegetable bin, in drawers of underwear - and they even have to rip open plastic bags of summer clothes in our attic…. At one point, when I asked one of them to be careful, he said, 'I'll do exactly what I want.'"

Shirel lives with his wife and nine children in Beit HaShishah (House of the Six). The complex is named for six men who were murdered by Arab terrorists outside Beit Hadassah in a Sabbath-night attack in May of 1980. He said that this morning, after the army declared Hevron a "closed military zone," he and some of his neighbors decided to see how this was being played out:

"We drove over to Kiryat Arba [about a kilometer away], and then promptly made a U-turn to return to Hevron. The soldiers then stopped us and demanded our ID cards, which we refused to show. This is our land and our homes, and in addition to the fact that they didn't even produce any documents showing that a closed military zone had actually been declared, it is totally illegitimate to use this tool for political purposes. Military zones can be declared closed when there is a danger to security and the like, but by what rights is it being used to serve someone's political interests? ... We stood outside there in the pouring rain, honking and walking around; it definitely caused a disturbance, and finally, after about two hours, they just gave in and let us through."

It was later reported that five women from Hevron had been arrested by security forces for refusing to present ID cards.

In another case reported today, a 14-year-old boy was grabbed by policemen in Kiryat Arba last night and dragged roughly down a staircase into a police van. Helpless children burst into tears at the sight. Only after adults intervened was the boy freed. The police later released this response:
"Rocks were thrown at a Yassam force in Kiryat Arba by several youths who ran away. A boy was arrested near the site of the incident, and as soon as it became clear that he was not connected with the case, he was released. Every complaint about violence that was perpetrated illegally should be submitted to the Department for Investigation of Policemen."

Shani Horowitz, who has been living in Hevron for 24 years told IsraelNationalRadio.com the following story:
"Two days ago, I heard knocking at my door, and I saw about 50 special Yassam police forces standing outside. They were also standing at the other entrance to the house, to make sure that the 'criminal' - my 17-year-old son - wouldn't run away. He is accused of insulting a police officer. The officer claims that my son said he was garbage. So after it happened, my husband, a very peace-loving person, went over to the policeman and apologized... You know, the children here have had very bad experiences with policemen [see, for instance this July 2002 story and this one - ed.]... the policemen are not too well-loved here because of many different things we've gone through. I one time had a search done in my house because a Palestinian boy threw a cell phone at my child and then he claimed that my child stole the cell phone - so the police came and took apart all my bookcases and closets to look for this cell phone... Another time, a son of mine went to testify that an Arab boy had hit his [my son's] youth counselor, and then the Arab testified that my son had hit his own counselor - and the police actually opened an investigation on that! ... In short, my children don't have a great love for the police force...

"In any event, in the last case, my son wanted to apologize... but the police didn't accept that, and they want a court case. So they came to arrest him for that. The other day, when I was on my way to Kiryat Arba, about 20 policemen came and jumped on my car in a very frightening way, opening all the doors and scaring my baby very much. When I asked why, they said they were looking for my son again..."

Asked how she sees the situation developing, Shani said,
"It's hard for me to believe that they [the government] will back down, because they're trying to prove that just as good as Sharon, and if Sharon was able to do what he did [in Gush Katif] , then Olmert is no worse and Mofaz is no weaker; I think the name of the game at this point is to oppress the settlers in any way possible. But, on the other hand, I believe in G-d, and He can help us get out of anything..."

Shani lives with her husband and 10 children in the Beit Hadassah complex. Asked about her overall spirit at this time, Shani said,
"You want to know something? I come from America, and for me it's the biggest privilege that I'm here; I know this is a very critical time in the history of the Jewish country. With G-d's help, I believe that everything is going to bring to the total Redemption. All these things that now look to us very black - they will soon bring us great light."