Come on a tour of Tel Rumeida. How can I describe what Tel Rumeida is…..
It is the epitome of apartheid. It is surrounded by walls and checkpoints, closed off from the rest of Hebron. There are two Israeli settlements, Beit Haddasseh and Tel Rumeida, housing some of the West Bank’s most extreme settlers, which include members of Kach, designated by Israel as a terrorist organization.
The street that you can see down there is Martyr Street. Palestinians are not allowed to walk on that street, though settlers can enter Palestinian areas. Instead of the paved road, the Palestinians must use this dirt path. In Tel Rumeida, Palestinians cannot drive cars to get to their homes, while settlers are free to drive.
Even though settlers will often throw water or stones, and even violently attack Palestinians and activists with them, they are free from any prosecution, and undergo searches on a daily basis just to move between their homes and the rest of the city. Even though the settlers’ children will terrorize Palestinians (frighteningly enough, even toddlers), it is the Palestinian children that are constantly being stopped, have their schoolbags searched, and are harrassed by any means possible by soldiers. Today we saw a soldier make a very young boy take off his cast for search. Soldiers humiliate, throw things, laugh at families as they walk by, and do what they can to degrade them.
Children that need to go by settlers’ homes to get to/from school need soldiers to escort them due to the violence and aggression from settlers. Soldiers cannot even control the settlers they are there to “protect”.
“Gas the Arabs”, not an uncommon statement here. JDL stands for Jewish Defense League – a far-right wing group that are considered terrorists by many, including the FBI.
We’re shown a Palestinian cemetery. Because it borders Martyr Street, Palestinians are not allowed to use it, maintain it or even walk through it. To reiterate, settlers can go pretty much anywhere they want in Tel Rumeida.
This is a very old well that leads to a spring. To Palestinians these things are truly considered holy. The settlers graffitied it and often swim in it, knowing that Palestinians drink from it.
We are in a field of olive trees, belonging anciently to the families around. Of course, they are prevented from harvesting them and settlers come and take their olives.
I’m sure I’m not the only one who is reminded of Nazi Germany where Jewish homes were tagged with the star of David. Now the Palestinian shops and homes have been tagged with it. This entire street is a ghost street. Some Palestinians still live above, but the children do not leave the houses to play. They are not allowed to walk on the street that accesses these doors so they often have to go to nearby buildings, walk across the roofs, and climb down into their own houses.
These streets used to be vibrant markets which are now so desolate that dogs sleep in the streets and the only people you will see in the open are settlers or soldiers.