Hebron-Past, Present and Forever -- July 9, 1998
According to the 'Hebron Accords," one of Israel's obligations is the further arming of Arafat's army. The weapon chosen to distribute to the terrorists is called the 'mini-Ingrim.' This gun is similar to the Israeli Uzi, except that it is deadlier. It shoots more bullets faster than the Uzi. It shoots single rounds, and is also automatic, like a machine gun. According to various sources, both media and others, Israel is about to begin handing out these weapons to the terrorists in the very near future, possibly within a month.
A few days ago another armed attack took place on an Israeli vehicle in Hebron. The car was shot at just before ten o'clock at night, from very close range. How the two men in the car escaped unharmed can only be described as an authentic miracle. After having seen where one of the bullets entered the car, and its departure point in the front windshield, my only explanation is that an angel pushed the driver's head down, or somehow revamped the bullet. Because, according to all logic, there is no way it could have missed him. (The same thing happened to Kiryat Arba resident Yossi Sharvit about a month ago, on the TransJudea road, just outside Hebron. Bullets whizzed in front of him and in back of him. Somehow they missed hitting him.)
Attacks in Hebron are nothing new. Rocks and firebombs are almost daily occurrences. But gunfire on the main road, leading back and forth between Kiryat Arba and Hebron is definitely worrisome for a few reasons, aside from the most obvious one, that of being shot at. The gunfire took place about 50 meters from an IDF checkpoint. The road from Hebron to Kiryat Arba is full of curves and hills. At a halfway point between the communities (the ride takes about all of five minutes) at one of the first curves, is the checkpoint. A couple of curves from there, on the hill leading into the city, the shots were fired. About 100 meters from there, at the bottom of the hill, just before reaching Ma'arat HaMachpela, is another IDF checkpoint. The gunman stood between these two army posts and tried to kill Israelis driving on the road. As soon as he finished shooting, he made his escape swiftly, into the Arafat-controlled part of Hebron. He was probably across the 'border' before our soldiers realized what was happening and began organizing search parties.
The two Israeli men who were attacked were immediately questioned by. . the Israeli police. The first question asked was, 'did you shoot your guns?' Even when the reply was negative, their weapons were confiscated and they were taken to the Kiryat Arba police station for further questioning.
Yesterday, the day after the attack, that same road, which is used by all cars traveling between Hebron and Kiryat Arba, was full of soldiers, - at the top of the hill, by each curve, and at the bottom of the hill in Hebron. Spot checks of Arab cars, and pedestrians took place all day. Today, less than 48 hours after the attempted murder, all is back to normal. All of the additional checkpoints on the road have disappeared, as if they had never existed.
The weapon used to perpetrate the attack was automatic - either an M-16 or an Israeli manufactured Galil. It was probably the M-16. It may have been an M-16 Israel provided by Israel earlier on, after implementation of the Hebron Accords. It is also no secret that Arafat's terrorists illegally possess many more weapons than allowed by the Hebron-Oslo agreements. One of Netanyahu's demands was that Arafat collect all the illegal weapons held by Arabs within the Palestinian Authority. Arafat, of course, refuses to do so. Instead, Israel is preparing to give them more weapons. Very lethal weapons. Which will eventually be pointed at us. And shot at us. It is very difficult to be so dependent on miracles.
Last week I attended one of my son's graduation ceremony from sixth grade. The ceremony is usually held in the Kiryat Arba school he attended. It consists of a play the graduating children perform, some speeches and a festive meal afterwards. However this year the ceremony took place at Masada, in the Judean desert, next to the Dead Sea. We left in the middle of the afternoon, toured the Masada hilltop, dovened Mincha at the remains of the site's 2,000 year old synagogue and had a quick dinner at the bottom of the hill. Then the children performed a play, this year centered around Israel's Jubilee celebration, with the Masada hill as background.
When they were finished we viewed the Masada sound-and-light show, repeating the history of the ill-fated population living atop Masada. The 957 Jews living there preferred to commit suicide rather than fall into Roman hands. The Romans needed four years to overcome the Jewish revolt against their rule in Eretz Yisrael. At that time the Romans were the imperial world superpower, and four years to put down the Jewish revolt was an awesome amount of time. The remnants of the revolt were isolated on the Masada hilltop. The Romans surrounded them and eventually found a way to reach the top. The Jews preferred death to Roman torture, slavery and death. They are seen as a symbol of Jewish bravery and heroism.
Maybe this is what Netanyahu wants - a replay of Masada. I cannot think of any other explanation for him allowing preparations to distribute more weapons to Hebron's terrorists. Those 957 people, 2,000 years ago, had no choice. They voluntarily opened their arms to death. If Bibi wants another Masada, he can walk the plank, all by himself. But we will not go with him. We do not open our arms to voluntary death. We do have a choice. We will not allow Masada to fall again.
David Wilder is the spokesman for the Jewish Community of Hebron.