Some pray for peace….February 25, 2012
On this day 18 years ago Dr. Baruch Goldstein, a Brooklyn-born physician, killed 30 worshipers and injured 270 more during al-Fajr (Dawn) prayer in the Al-Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.
At Goldstein’s funeral, Rabbi Yaacov Perrin claimed that even one million Arabs are “not worth a Jewish fingernail”. Samuel Hacohen, a teacher at a Jerusalem college, declared Goldstein the “greatest Jew alive, not in one way but in every way” and said that he was “the only one who could do it, the only one who was 100 percent perfect.”
His grave in Meir Kahane Memorial Park in Hebron became a site of veneration for Jewish settlers, with a plaque praising “the holy Baruch Goldstein, who gave his life for the Jewish people, the Torah and the nation of Israel.”
The shrine that supporters built at the grave mushroomed into a pilgrimage site. Jewish admirers of Dr. Goldstein from Israel and abroad would pray at the grave, kneeling and kissing the tombstone.
To avoid further embarrassment, Israel dismantled the shrine and the prayer area around the grave in 1999, but admirers of Goldstein still pray on his grave.
Dr. Goldstein would have been proud, that his crime not only divided Israelis and Palestinians further, but also gave the occupation authorities an excuse to close Shuhada Street, a main connection and an important commercial street which was housing the Hebron vegetable market. Successively 520 shops in the surrounding area were shut down by the Israeli military over the years.
440 settlers live in the eastern part of Hebron in the midst of 180,000 Palestinians. The settlers are “guarded” by approximately 1,600 to 2,000 Israeli soldiers. Tanks surround the city of Hebron, which is divided into areas called H-1 and H-2. Israel has control over security and public order in area H-2 where 20,000 Palestinians and 200 settlers reside.
Jewish settlers are permitted to walk on Shuhada Street while Palestinians are not allowed to use the once busy access road.
Yesterday 300 Palestinians, 200 Israelis, and some international peace activists, hoisting Palestinian flags and chanting anti-occupation slogans, gathered in Hebron to protest the 18-year closure of Shuhada Street.
As they attempted to approach the street, police forces dispersed the rally by throwing stun grenades, shooting tear gas, and spraying “skunk” liquid. Three demonstrators — one Israeli and two Palestinians — were arrested, dozens of protesters were treated in the two Hebron hospitals for injuries resulting from tear gas and skunk liquid. Most cases of injuries were asphyxiation by poison gas and burns.
Israeli-Palestinian Knesset member Mohammed Barakeh of the Jewish-Arab Hadash party was injured by soldiers, which shot a sound bomb at his right leg.
At one point, Israeli soldiers used new noise technology to break up the rally and the demonstrator could listen to the following announcement: “This is a test of the long-range device LRAD from American Technology Corporation.”