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No Incitement Necessary for a Palestinian Town to Hate Israel

Sa’ir will recover; its people are well-trained and strong. But it’s not hard to imagine what sort of pent-up feelings are being reinforced by the lockdown of this southern West Bank town.

Let’s take Shoham, a bedroom community of 20,000 people with a country club. An hour’s drive away there’s a town called Sa’ir. It also has 20,000 residents (no country club, though).
Now imagine that a car had been shot at on Route 444, not far from Shoham. The police don’t catch the gunman, but suspect that he fled to Shoham. So what do they do? They impose a closure on Shoham. They seal it off totally. No one is permitted to leave for a week – not for work, not for school, not to see a doctor or do business. Whether you’re a resident or a guest, you’re stuck. No amount of begging will help. Some 20,000 people would remain under siege.
The city would go crazy. Israel would go crazy. A blockade on an entire city because of one person, who probably isn’t even hiding there? A week inside a cage? They would be Skyping Rafi Reshef’s program every day to describe the residents’ suffering – the stories of shortages in the stores, patients who couldn’t get their treatment, kids who couldn’t get to day camp, students who missed final exams, brides and grooms who couldn’t get to their weddings, businesses on the brink of collapse and withered fields.
Shoham would remember this siege with pain and anger. Every year it would hold a commemorative ceremony. The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews would conduct a fundraising campaign and the local welfare department would treat traumatized children who can’t stop wetting their beds after suffering through the fear of the nightly searches. The police commissioner who issued the order would be forced to resign. Israel would go nuts from such a closure.
But Sa’ir, just an hour’s drive from Shoham, has been sealed off for five days. You haven’t heard much about it and it doesn’t interest anyone. On Saturday a Palestinian gunman shot at an Israeli car; the driver was wounded in the leg but was able to continue driving. Since that shooting, though, Sa’ir has been under closure. You can enter, but you cannot leave. An officer and two soldiers from the Kfir Brigade stand at a makeshift checkpoint and explain this to drivers seeking to enter. Some take the gamble and drive on through. Nobody knows when they’ll come out. Palestinians’ time is horribly cheap, as is their freedom, their lives and their dignity.
Stranded in Sa’ir this week were truck drivers on their way to sawmills, laborers, students, patients, buyers, sellers, everyone. One truck driver was held up this week for 16 hours at one of those checkpoints responsible for keeping the town under lockdown. Even an ambulance was stopped there this week. Since it was empty, it wasn’t permitted to leave. The order is unequivocal; no one can leave. Entreaties – and there have been many at the Sa’ir checkpoint – won’t help. There are soldiers who explain this humanely, as humanely as inhumane orders can be explained, while others bark and growl, as is customary at West Bank checkpoints.
Sa’ir isn’t Gaza, and the closure will eventually be lifted. The town will recover; it’s not the first time it’s been blockaded, nor will it be the last. Neighboring Samua has been sealed off since Tuesday; the Al Fawar refugee camp is also under closure, and the town of Bani Na’im was, too. The war on terrorism permits everything, including collective punishment and imposing a terror-siege. The settlers’ desire for revenge and punishment must be satisfied; they pressure the army to close off, besiege, and lock down as much as possible – and to kill, too, if possible. Besides which, it’s really easier to search for a wanted man in a besieged city, so why not?
Sa’ir will recover; its people are well-trained and strong. But it’s not hard to imagine what sort of pent-up feelings are being reinforced by the lockdown of this southern West Bank town. There’s no need for “incitement” for Sa’ir to hate. It doesn’t need any sermons or propaganda videos. It has all the reasons it needs. How can it not hate those who abuse it? How can it not seethe at the intolerable ease with which a siege is imposed on it for the occupier’s convenience?
Look at Sa’ir, and think of Shoham.

Gideon Levy

Haaretz Correspondent


Scher1mata 2016 07 14 alle 14.22.43

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The Temple Mount was temporarily closed to Jewish visitors on Wednesday at the order of Jerusalem District Commander Yoram Halevy after Jews broke visitation rules at the holy site, police said. The Jewish visitors were expelled from the compound for bringing sacred books to the Mount and trying to pray there. After one of the individuals was cautioned, another took out a holy book, and the group was expelled. Meanwhile, renewed clashes erupted between protesters and Israeli security forces near the Lion's Gate in the Old City, where police used stun grenades against the demonstrators. A regular dynamic has developed involving clashes between Palestinians and Israel Police over the past several days near the Lion's Gate. Dozens of Palestinians are present at the site on a regular basis, urging devotion to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and condemning Israel. During Muslim prayer times, particularly the midday and nighttime prayers, hundreds and sometimes even thousands have been gathering there.

There have been outbreaks of violence during these periods, including stone-throwing or physical confrontations with the police. In most of these incidents, the police have been using stun grenades and sponge-tipped bullets to disperse the crowds. In a number of cases, journalists in the area have also suffered violence at the hands of the police. On Tuesday, Hassan Shaalan, a reporter for the Ynet news website, was struck by a policeman even after he identified himself as a member of the press. A group of Jerusalem-based journalists released a statement of condemnation over the incident and called on the police to permit reporters to do their jobs. The Jerusalem Police responded: "This involved an incident that took place in the course of violent disturbances of the peace that occurred in Jerusalem while the police were acting to remove the demonstrators from the street after some of them refused to vacate. The forces working on the scene are under constant threat to their lives. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.802141

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