Monday, October 7, 2013

My Chevron Perspective

So I keep getting asked when I am going to write my next blog post and my go to answer is my complete lack of a topic to write about. The truth is, I am just a major procrastinator.

I just came on here for the first time in a month, and realized that it has actually been way too long since I wrote anything. I am a coward, and I am afraid that nothing I write will be able to top my overly emotional Gaza post.

Time speeds up and time slows down and right now I feel like the world has paused and I have endless opportunities in front of me, so I might as well sit here and write about something, anything that is on my mind. This could have more to do with the 1 AM unnecessary consumption of two Red Bulls, than anything else but I am up now and the world is my oyster.

It's October 7 right now. On September 22 I spent the day in Chevron. That was a little over 2 weeks ago. When I went to sleep that night I thought I would never stop thinking about what happened that day, but the sad truth is that only a little over 2 weeks later, I rarely think about it at all.

This is something I wrote that day.

I was in Chevron today. I was on a special tour arranged by the Chevron Fund. I went to places that Jews aren't allowed to go to normally because they would be killed. I saw Arab kids throwing rocks at the soldiers. I saw flash bangs go off to disperse the rock throwers. I saw soldiers at the ready for the Arabs pushing in from all sides. I saw the soldiers actively protecting me from the Arabs who tried to get through to harm me. I stopped and spoke to every soldier I passed, asking their name, where they are from, making them smile. Thanking them for risking their life so I could be in Chevron. 
An hour after I left the city, an Arab sniper shot and killed an Israeli soldier. He was right by Ma'eret Hamachpela, guarding the area so that thousands of Jews could go visit the graves of the patriarchs, on one of the 10 days a year that it is open to the Jews. I was there today. I saw the soldiers. I saw the Arabs. I saw with my own eyes what is really going on here.
How much longer are we going to let this happen? How many more young soldiers have to die? Guys who haven't yet lived their lives. Guys who are just trying to protect their families, their country. How much longer are we going to let these so called peace talks go on? How many more terrorists are we going to release? 

This has to stop. This has to stop now.

His name was Gavriel Kobi.

Two days before this, an Israeli soldier was kidnapped and murdered by an Arab who wanted to trade the soldier's dead body for his terrorist brother in jail.
This concept is in existence because the Israeli government has set a precedent that they will trade terrorists for soldiers. That they are willing to give back prisoners, people who have killed multiple Israeli citizens.

Just 2 days after this soldier was kidnapped and murdered by his Arab coworker, another soldier was shot by an Arab sniper right at the bottom of the Tombs of our Patriarchs. Both of these young men were 20 year old soldiers in the IDF. Both of these young men were the same age as me.

When I was in Chevron that day I was lucky enough to have access to a part of the city that is regularly closed off to the Jews. If they enter, they will be murdered. Tensions were high, the hostility was palpable, the amount of soldiers around us were many. All standing at ready, with their guns loaded, guiding us down this one short block so we could visit the crypt of the first judge - Ozniel Ben Kenaz.
While waiting for our tour, we were joking around with a couple soldiers who were a little hesitant about us standing right near them. When my sister asked whether we were actually allowed to be there one of them said that we aren't really, in case rocks are thrown at them, citizens can't be harmed. My smart-ass sister of course quickly answered  'Well if we see them throwing rocks at us, we'll just jump behind you'.
She was joking, but that is the reality. We were surrounded by young soldiers, men and women in the late teens, early 20's who were literally risking their lives for us. They haven't lived their lives yet. They haven't even gone to college. Yet on a daily basis they put their lives on the line so that I could live mine in peace.
Throughout the day, you could hear the loud sounds of the flash bangs, the roar of the crowd rioting, the smell of the smoke in the air. I picked up a freshly used tear gas canister as a souvenir.
I saw so much that day, more than I knew. I saw the dilapidated buildings, the caravans that the Jews live in, the Arab kids who are taught murder at a young age. I saw the complete and total bravery of the Jewish citizens of Chevron.

An hour after my tour left Chevron, a soldier was shot in the neck by a sniper, and died from his wounds. He was standing right near the spot that my family was sitting and waiting, just a few minutes earlier. I definitely smiled at him, maybe even said hi. He could have been anyone I know.
At that moment, I was devastated. It felt a lot closer than all the other news I hear because I was there that day, witnessing what is really going on in Chevron.

Why am I thinking about all of this again? Because 2 nights ago a 9 year old girl was playing in her yard when she was shot in the neck by a terrorist. She is a kid. She just wanted to play in her yard before she went to bed.
I read the news article and it briefly mentions the most recent terrorist casualties, the 2 young soldiers. The country has moved on to its next tragedy, its next terror attack.

The more we continue these so called peace talks, the more terrorism stems directly from it. You cannot negotiate with terrorists. This has to stop.

(These 3 photos aren't taken by me)

Some Chevron stats and facts:

Around 850 Jews live in Chevron, including 300 children. Chevrons Arab population is about 200,000 people.
The city area is about 20 square kilometers. The H-1 area (under rule of the PA) is 18 s km. while H-2 (under Israeli rule) is 2 s km.
Most Jewish property is 'off-limits' to Jews in Chevron. Property owned by Jews prior to the 1929 riots and massacre, and subsequently stolen and occupied by Arabs, has not yet been returned to the Jewish community.

Now some pictures from my day in Chevron.

In the bottom left corner you can see one of the streets where they were rioting and throwing stones

Sign warning Jews not to enter

Praying by the crypt of Ozniel Ben Kenaz

The crypt of Ozniel Ben Kenaz

You can't really see but they were pointing their guns at 4 Arabs who wanted to come up and cause trouble

If you look closely you can see the blue smoke from the tear gas

Ma'arat HaMachpela

Tear gas canister