“Only Jews here. Only Jews.”
It is one of only a few phrases blared through a loudspeaker at their Palestinian neighbors last Thursday evening that wasn’t sexually violent, vulgar or insulting and degrading to Muslims.
It also speaks to the core of Israel’s state ideology, Zionism.
It is an ideology that justifies a few hundred Jewish settlers living under the guard of a massive military force in one of the largest Palestinian cities in the West Bank.
The Kiryat Arba settlers’ broadcast was captured on the video at the top of this article by Manal al-Jabri, a Palestinian resident of Hebron who works with the Israeli rights group B’Tselem.
Al-Jabri said that the settlers were having a party and turned up their music when the call to prayer was being broadcast from a mosque.
They used a megaphone to amplify sexually explicit insults against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad made in Arabic and Hebrew.
Once the settlers noticed that they were being filmed, they began to insult al-Jabri.
“Stick your camera up your ass, you shitbag,” they told her in Hebrew.
Harassment and threats
The harassment and threats against her that followed are too vile to quote here.
The Israeli occupation forces who were present while the woman was being threatened “allowed the settlers to continue undisturbed, as is usually the case,” B’Tselem stated.
Al-Jabri told B’Tselem that life in her neighborhood in Hebron “has become intolerable” due to repeated military raids and settler violence and harassment.
This was no isolated incident. Videos filmed in 2015, for instance, show Kiryat Arba settlers, including children, protected by soldiers, shouting anti-Muslim slurs and vulgarities at Palestinians.
“As a Muslim, I was extremely offended by the insults hurled at the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him,” al-Jabri said of the latest incident.
“As a woman, I felt terrible hearing the foul language directed personally at me for filming them.”
Another recent video from Hebron published by B’Tselem shows the daily harassment that makes life unlivable for Palestinians in the city.
The video, recorded in July, shows a Palestinian family attempting to move from one home to another.
Because of Israel’s decades-long “policy of segregation in the center of Hebron,” as stated by B’Tselem, “major streets in the area have been declared off-limits to Palestinians, some entirely and others only [off-limit] to vehicles.”
One street on which Palestinians are allowed to travel by foot is al-Sahla street, south of the Ibrahimi mosque, which both Islamic and Jewish tradition hold as the place of burial of the Prophet Abraham.
The street is bookended by Israeli military checkpoints.
The Haddad family in Hebron had to navigate these checkpoints in order to move house last month.
Abd al-Jaber Haddad, 26, loaded a truck with the contents of his apartment and arrived at what is known as the Pharmacy Checkpoint at one end of al-Sahla street.
Abd al-Jaber, with the help of three of his cousins, unloaded the truck and asked the soldiers at the checkpoint to let them through.
The soldiers refused, instructing them to take the furniture through Checkpoint 160, on the other end of al-Sahla street, less than a mile away.
At Checkpoint 160, the soldiers refused to let the truck pass, so Abd al-Jaber had to unload his truck once again and sought out a donkey cart to transport the heavy furniture to his new home.
Two of Abd al-Jaber’s cousins were meanwhile carrying lighter possessions like linens and kitchenware through the gate at the Pharmacy Checkpoint when one of them, Nadi, 19, got into an argument with an Israeli soldier.
Shuruq Haddad, Abd al-Jaber’s wife, was waiting at the new apartment when she heard Nadi and the soldier shouting and swearing at each other.
B’Tselem published a video showing the altercation:
Shuruq, who told B’Tselem that she “was worried that things would deteriorate,” ran over to Checkpoint 160 to tell her husband about the altercation.
“He ran back with me to the Pharmacy Checkpoint,” she said. Nadi and another of Abd al-Rahman’s cousins “were at the checkpoint arguing with the police officers.”
Nadi was detained and taken to a police station outside the Ibrahimi mosque.
Shuruq and Abd al-Rahman resumed carrying their possessions from the checkpoints to their new home.
“In the evening, when we finally had everything inside the new house, I discovered that some of our possessions had been broken, the clothes were dirty and some of the furniture was ruined,” Shuruq stated.
Routine violence of occupation
Nadi fainted at the police station and was taken to a hospital and sent home several hours later.
No weapons were fired. No one was killed. It was only the routine, unspectacular violence of the Israeli occupation that doesn’t get reported in international newspapers.
But it is this profound penetration into Palestinians’ family lives that is the staggering reality of the occupation.
A decade ago, the late Yosef “Tommy” Lapid, then chair of Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, likened the behavior of the settlers in Hebron to those who persecuted Jews like himself in the Europe of his youth.
“It was not crematoria or pogroms that made our life in the diaspora bitter before they began to kill us,” Lapid said, “but persecution, harassment, stone-throwing, damage to livelihood, intimidation, spitting and scorn.”
“Abuse, violence and daily harassment” by Israeli soldiers and settlers in Hebron alike “have made life there intolerable for Palestinians,” B’Tselem says today.
“As a result, thousands have moved out of the area.”
Some families who haven’t moved out have found themselves forced out, and their homes taken over by settlers.
And so Israel’s state ideology is realized.
“Only Jews here. Only Jews.”