Hebron settlers hold Purim parade while Palestinians locked down for coronavirus

Dismissing virus fears, Israeli soldiers and police accompanied 250 settlers in Hebron's city center while preventing Palestinian onlookers from approaching.

An Israeli soldier seen during the annual Purim parade in Hebron's city center, West Bank, March 10, 2020. (Oren Ziv)
An Israeli soldier seen during the annual Purim parade in Hebron's city center, West Bank, March 10, 2020. (Oren Ziv)

In the shadow of the spread of coronavirus across Israel-Palestine, over 250 Israeli settlers took part in the annual parade to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim in the center of occupied Hebron on Tuesday.

The settlers, who marched from the neighborhood of Tel Rumeida to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, were accompanied by hundreds of Israeli soldiers and police officers who prevented Palestinian onlookers from approaching.

The settlers boasted that theirs was the only Purim festival that was allowed to take place, after parties in cities across the country were cancelled due to fears of the virus; however, attendance was sparser than in previous years.

Meanwhile, just 22 kilometers north, the Israeli army put Bethlehem under lockdown after seven cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the city, preventing residents from entering or exiting the city.

Tuesday’s parade began at the “Elor Junction,” where Israeli soldier Elor Azaria shot dead a wounded Palestinian assailant as he lay incapacitated on the ground in Mar. 2016. Imad Abu Shamsiya, a Palestinian from Hebron, was standing just a few meters away, filming the incident. His documentation led to an investigation and eventual trial of Azaria.

Israeli settlers dance during the annual Purim parade in the West Bank city of Hebron. Palestinians, who were forbidden from leaving their homes during the march, can be seen looking on from their balcony, March 10, 2020. (Oren Ziv)
Israeli settlers dance during the annual Purim parade in the West Bank city of Hebron. Palestinians, who were forbidden from leaving their homes during the march, can be seen looking on from their balcony, March 10, 2020. (Oren Ziv)

Just before 11 a.m., a group of young settlers who appeared drunk knocked on the door of a Palestinian family that lives next to the Abu Shamsiya family. When an Israeli soldier tried to remove them, one of the settlers responded by saying “Let us enjoy Purim a little.” When the settler saw Abu Shamsiya in the adjacent house, he told his friend that they had the wrong address.

“I just hope the event ends peacefully,” Abu Shamsiya said quietly.

Since 1967, Hebron’s city center has become the site of several Jewish settlements that Israel established amidst the local Palestinian population. For years, the Palestinians living in the area have been subjected both to extreme restrictions imposed by the military and to routine violence by extremist settlers. As a result, huge numbers of residents moved out and hundreds of businesses were shut down, leaving the area in economic ruin.

Palestinian children look on at the annual Purim parade in the city center of occupied Hebron, West Bank, March 10, 2020. Palestinians were forbidden from entering their homes for the duration of the celebration. (Oren Ziv)
Palestinian children look on at the annual Purim parade in the city center of occupied Hebron, West Bank, March 10, 2020. Palestinians were forbidden from entering their homes for the duration of the celebration. (Oren Ziv)

Around 34,000 Palestinians and 700 settlers currently live in the city center. Palestinians living there are subjected to restrictions on their movement, including the closure of main streets, while settlers are free to travel where they wish. In addition, the Israeli army has issued orders to shut down hundreds of stores and commercial establishments in the area.

“Although we’ve had tourists from all kinds of places, the coronavirus did not make it to Hebron,” said Baruch Marzel, a prominent extreme-right activist and resident of the city who wore a “Make Hebron Great Again” hat to the parade. “Hebron is a strong and holy city for the Jews where our ancestors protect us, while in Bethlehem, which is holy to Christianity, corona is having a field day,” Marzel added.

Israeli soldiers watch on as Hebron's settlers hold their annual Purim parade in the city, March 10, 2020. (Oren Ziv)
Israeli soldiers watch on as Hebron’s settlers hold their annual Purim parade in the city, March 10, 2020. (Oren Ziv)

The marchers, many of them teenagers carrying bottles of wine, walked past Palestinian shops that closed 25 years ago following the Cave of the Patriarchs massacre, in which settler Baruch Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinian worshipers in February 1994. In response to the killings, the Israeli army began restricting the movement of Hebron’s Palestinian residents and enforcing a policy of strict segregation between them and the settlers.

Two decades later, the restrictions have only grown more severe. Hebron’s Shuhada Street, where much of Tuesday’s march took place, has seen the most notorious of these restrictions. Once a busy commercial center, many shop doors have now been welded shut by military order, giving the area the appearance of a ghost town. Today, many of the shuttered shops have been spray-painted with Stars of David.

Israeli settlers dance with an IDF commander during the annual Purim parade in occupied Hebron, West Bank, March 10, 2020. (Oren Ziv)
Israeli settlers dance with an IDF commander during the annual Purim parade in occupied Hebron, West Bank, March 10, 2020. (Oren Ziv)

During Purim, the existing restrictions on Palestinians become even more extreme. Palestinians living along the route of the march are not even allowed to open the doors of their homes, while some watch the march through the metal bars installed on their balconies to protect them from stones thrown by the settlers.

Israeli soldiers can also be seen dancing with settlers, and the few makeshift checkpoints through which Palestinians can enter Shuhada Street with special permission are shut down. The loud music, the dancing, and the colorful costumes stand out even more against the backdrop of the ghost town, the shop doors covered in Hebrew graffiti.

A version of this article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

22 responses to “What if Israel had decided to expel the settlers of Hebron?”

  1. Itshak Gordine says:

    No Israeli government will be able to expel the Jews from Hebron. It is the third holy city of Judaism.And why make this holy city “Judenrein”? It is racism worthy of obscure times.

    • Ben says:

      As with the original malignant settlers, so with you, settler (as Amiram Goldblum states): “The facts did not confuse the settlers….”

      And as usual, you side step main points:

      “Using provocations in order to elicit retaliation from the Palestinians has been a cornerstone in the settlers’ methods of expanding their control,” and

      “There was another option for bringing about calm that Rabin and his advisors did not discuss: demolishing Baruch Goldstein’s home… Yet never has Israel demolished homes belonging to the many Jewish Israelis involved in violence against Palestinians.”

      And the obtuse looking away of Sohlberg the Settler.

      And “would Yigal and Hagai Amir have considered the fate of their family’s home before going ahead with their assassination?”

      Halevy my man you do such a good job of illustrating what the settlers are really like that we’d have to draft you if you didn’t volunteer.

      • Itshak Gordine says:

        You are as usual delirious in the depths of the US. Hebron is just like Jerusalem a Jewish holy city where the Jews came back after being expelled and massacred .. It is the city of the patriarchs dear to our heart. No true Jew can renounce it

        • Carmen says:

          ‘You are as usual delirious in the depths of the US. Hebron is just like Jerusalem a Jewish holy city where the Jews came back after being expelled and massacred .. It is the city of the patriarchs dear to our heart. No true Jew can renounce it.’

          As usual Itzak you’ve got it ass-backwards. No true Jew can abide it. Hebron needs a thorough cleansing, starting with removal of the redneck, racist rabble squatting there, quaintly called ‘settlers’, who’ve done nothing but bring shame and despair. Any harm that has been done to this group of thugs has been entirely self-inflicted. PAB.

  2. Bruce Gould says:

    The article says “Hundreds of Palestinian homes have been destroyed, yet the violent struggle for freedom has continued for over 50 years.” No, it’s around 50,000 (fifty thousand) –
    https://icahd.org/

    So far in 2019: 446 STRUCTURES DEMOLISHED
    579 PEOPLE DISPLACED
    49,581 STRUCTURES DEMOLISHED IN OPT SINCE 1967

    • Lewis from Afula says:

      Bruce:
      Who cares ?
      They started the bloody 6 day war in the 1st place.
      If they (and YOU) had any integrity, it is reasonable to accept its consequences.

      • Carmen says:

        Lewis – your use of the word ‘integrity’ has the same value as a pathological liar cry8ing ‘fake news’. Removing people who’ve lived in their homes on their land for centuries to make way for a group of conspiracy theorists and fairy tale followers with the very dangerous combo of being fools and having some kind of cause (murder, theft, rape)was one of the bigger mistakes made by the criminal enterprise known as the ‘state’ of israel, and the use of the so-called army to protect these thieves is nothing less than disgusting. There’s nothing you can say that changes these facts, no amount of whataboutery, conflation, hysteria or any other of the tools of the hasbara trade makes any difference.

        • Itshak Gordine says:

          Carmen, the only thieves are those who want to steal from the Jewish people its historical, national and religious heritage. There has never been an Arab state of “Palestine” in history. Judea Samaria was English before being annexed by the Hashemite Kingdom, which lost it by declaring war on Israel in 1967. These are facts, the rest is only blah blah and legends.

        • Itshak Gordine says:

          Carmen, about murder, theft and rape, what do you think of the massacre, destruction and expulsion of Jews from Hebron by the Arabs in 1929?

          • Carmen says:

            “blah blah”. The only part of your post missing is the number of jews who were hidden by their non-jewish friends and neighbors. That is never, ever mentioned by you crazy baldheads. Read what I wrote to Lewis. I’m not going to continue to explain to you what you clearly are constantly rejecting. You’re hopeless and rather pathetic. You are not and cannot prove you have some historical right to be here or are a descendent of the Hebrew Israelites. You have no right to anything. Some day you’ll have to decide if you want to live in peace with palestinian neighbors or not and if not, you are free to get out. I’ll help you pack and get you to the airport if necessary.

          • Itshak Gordine says:

            Carmen, as many of our religious leaders, including Rabbi Lebavitch, have made clear, it is forbidden for any Jewish leader to abandon a single inch of the land of Israel to a pseudo people from nowhere, or rather to individuals from the Maghreb, Iraq or Syria. Many of them are leaving for a few thousand dollars in Canada or in the Scandinavian countries. Israel is only growing in importance while its enemies no longer count politically. Those who do not want us can get out and that’s what they do. Those who want to fight us can do it at their own risk.

          • Ben says:

            @Itshak the Settler: This Hardali-Kookism of yours is tres passé. People have moved on. The messiah is not coming—at least sane nations are not going to structure their policies based on the messiah coming—on your coldly zealous religious fundamentalism which is in reality just a veneer for heartless, racist hyper-nationalism and not the ultra-unique pious singularity you believe it is. All cults think they are singular. Destructive cults have limited lives, thankfully but can do a lot of damage before they inevitably go up in flames literally or figuratively. The task is to contain the nuttiest and most brutal ones until sane people with intact human hearts can prevail. But you are a useful case study in cold fanaticism. In what the settlers are really like. The non-Hasbara version.

          • carmen says:

            @Itz – of course your response is ‘look here not there’ nonsense I’ve come to expect from you cuz that’s all you got. As far as the rest of your post, you and your rabbis can stick your racist xenophobic propaganda straight up your privileged, stinkin’ funky _____ where the sun definitely does not shine (fill in the blank doofus). Yikes.

          • Itshak Gordine says:

            Carmen, you can reserve your rudeness to your friends. The only real fact is that the Jewish people have returned to their land and in accordance with the promises of our sages, the latter has become fertile and Israel has become one of the most developed states in the world in the middle of Arab countries that are falling into violence and underdevelopment. Many of them have made an alliance with Israel. All the rest is just blah blah

          • Ben says:

            “… The only real fact…”.

            Halevy reminds me of a Flat Earther who earnestly tells you that “the only real fact is that when I look across the ocean from my shore I can see a distant island. Hence the Earth is flat.”

            He differs from Flat Earthers in that the latter are by and large harmless eccentrics who don’t occupy, cheat, lie, steal, destroy, kill, imprison and torture as part of an organized “enterprise.”

          • Carmen says:

            Oh Izzy, clutch your pearls and get the smelling salts because here’s one from your home girl – in the words of the great (in her mind) Miri Regev, ‘cut zee boolshit’. The only thing that would be more nonsensical than your posts would be if the descendants of the Vikings decided to reclaim prior lands, going by their ancient rights and rites. It’s all ridiculous. You have no claim nor does any not from here jew. You have no title. Your claims about blah blah rabbis and fairy tales are moronic and no one in their right mind would think otherwise.

          • Ben says:

            @Carmen: Bingo! You’re very funny. I like the Viking analogy.

  3. Lewis from Afula says:

    Yes, send the 7th Century Settlers home !
    Their relatives in Amman are waiting for their return.

  4. Lewis from Afula says:

    Bruce:
    Who cares ?
    They started the bloody 6 day war in the 1st place.
    If they (and YOU) had any integrity, it is reasonable to accept its consequences.