Yigal Amir’s assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin on 4 November 1995 dramatically changed the work of the Hebron team. Amir turned out to have been one of the key organizers of the Saturday afternoon street thuggery in Hebron, so much of that violence came to an end. Israeli public opinion as well, turned against settlers who had called for Rabin’s death. Below are releases the team put out right after the assassination, before they (or anyone else) understood what the lasting impact of the assassination would be.
9 November 1995
“POLICE ARREST SETTLERS; VIOLENCE MAY INCREASE”
by Wendy Lehman
HEBRON, WEST BANK — Since the assassination of Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin by a right-wing extremist, Israeli authorities in Hebron have begun to investigate and apprehend some militant settlers. Demonstrations and protests by Hebron settlers have greatly decreased in the wake of the assassination, yet some settlers have made statements celebrating Rabin’s death. Israeli police moved in and arrested 2 settlers in Kiryat Arba on the outskirts of Hebron because they had said Rabin was a traitor and they condoned his death.
Despite this new pressure from Israeli police, settler violence may increase in the coming days. Following Rabin’s murder, Hebron settler Baruch Marzel said in a CBS news interview, “we will hold back for a month . . . or a week.” Marzel is a leader in the outlawed Jewish Kach movement, classified by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization.
Prior to the assassination, Hebron settlers issued a press release declaring November as “International Hebron month” in order to celebrate Hebron as a Jewish city. According to the [newspaper Al-Hayat] November 17 has been declared by the Hebron settlers as the “Day of Murders”. The paper stated that settlers in Hebron have invited extremist Jews from within the Occupied Territories, the U.S.A. and Europe to come to Hebron on this day.
Marzel and others have made threats in the past. Those statements went unpunished, but since the assassination the Israeli police seem to be taking these comments more seriously. At 3:00 and 6:30 am yesterday and at 6:30 am today, according to a Palestinian neighbor, Israeli police came to Tel Rumeida settlement where Marzel lives in order to arrest two settlers.
The police did not specify who they were looking for, but approximately five civilian police and two border police surrounded Marzel’s house. The Palestinian neighbor saw Marzel slip out of his house all three times.
Yigal Amir (25), who gunned down Rabin on November 4, had connections to the settler community in Hebron. According to the New York Times (11/8/95), “Far from being a loner, fellow students said today he [Amir] has organized weekend outings to Hebron, a flash point in the West Bank, to support embattled settlers there.”
Hebron is populated by 120,000 Palestinians, 400 Israeli settlers, and 1,200 Israeli soldiers. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has maintained a violence reduction presence in Hebron since early June. Current team members include: Kay & Randy Bond (Grand Rapids, MI), Ed Cooney (Trenton, MI), Fr. Peter Dougherty (Lansing, MI), Wendy Lehman (Kidron, OH), Carman Pauls (Denver, CO), Margaret Purchase (Grand Rapids, MI), and Tom Shea (Traverse City, MI).
CPTNET November 13, 1995
HEBRON ACTION ALERT
Last week’s assasination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin by Jewish extremists has sparked concerns that settler violence may escalate. In a new partnership, Christian Peacemaker Teams together with Palestinians & Israelis for Nonviolence have issued the following joint ACTION ALERT from Hebron where armed settlers routinely harass and attack Palestinian residents.
“STOP SETTLER VIOLENCE AGAINST PALESTINIANS”
Stoning, verbal insults, death threats, and physical attacks are among the numerous forms of violence used by armed Israeli settlers against the Palestinian residents of Hebron. Despite countless complaints registered with law enforcement officials, Israeli police and soldiers routinely turn a blind eye to the Palestinians plight. Settlers are not held accountable for violent acts perpetrated against Palestinians who continue to endure the harmful physical, psychological and financial effects of ongoing harrassment.
Fariel Abu Heikal, headmistress of the Cortoba school for girls and Palestinian resident of the Tel Rumeida settlement area, observed: “Once there was much friendship between Jews and Muslims here [in Hebron]. It is again possible if they [the settlers] live without weapons.”
As CPTers living in Hebron since June 1995, we have documented numerous cases of settler abuse and, together with Palestinians & Israelis for Nonviolence, we urgently appeal for:
1) prompt and effective response by Israeli police to emergency calls for help and formal complaints filed against settlers who harass and harm Palestinian residents of Hebron.
2) immediate disarmament of the settlers in the city center of Hebron, and in the settlements surrounding the city. If this is not possible, we call for the removal of the settlers.
ACTION: Please circulate and sign the attached letter and send it to the Prime Minister of Israel with copies to the Israeli ambassador in your country. Thank you for your partnership,
CPT Hebron, Palestinians & Israelis for Nonviolence
FAX OR SEND LETTERS TO:
Prime Minister Shimon Peres
Fax (from U.S. or Canada): 011-972-2- 664-838
WITH COPIES TO:
Embassy of Israel, Washington DC FAX 202-364-5429
Embassy of Israel, Ottawa, Canada FAX 613-237-8865
LETTER RE: A Call to Stop Violent Acts by Israeli Settlers Against Palestinian Residents of Hebron
I was shocked and saddened to hear of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, and wish to express my condolences to the Rabin family and the people of Israel. In the past few weeks it has become clear that the violent aggression of a few persons has devastating effects for individuals and the whole nation.
I am particularly concerned by reports that Israeli settlers in Hebron continue to carry out attacks against Palestinian residents of the city with little or no interference by the Israeli army or police in spite of the Oslo peace accords. The whole world witnessed the attack on Palestinian elementary students at Kortuba school for girls in Hebron [on 10 September 1995], and I have recently received reports of additional incidents.
For example, on September 22, 1995, armed settlers threw stones at Mediha Abu Heikal (55) and injured her in the forehead. Three settlers then stood at her gate shouting, “We will kill you. We will come and do as Baruch Goldstein,” (who massacred 29 Palestinians at prayer in 1994). Israeli soldiers stood by and did nothing. When complaints to the Israeli police went unheeded, two frustrated members of Abu Heikal’s family told soldiers who had witnessed the stoning that if they did not enforce the law, the family would take matters into their own hands. The result: rather than apprehend the settlers responsible for the violence, police arrested the two distraught Palestinians! Is this the way the Israeli justice system works in Hebron?
The Abu Heikal family has suffered from settler attacks and harassment for twelve years, yet all of their complaints to the Israeli army and police have gone unheeded. The same is true for the Da’na family near Kiryat Arba, whose home is still being stoned by settlers three to four times per week. Many Palestinian families living near settlements in Hebron face this type of ongoing harassment.
As the Prime Minister of Israel, you must do everything in your power to halt the Israeli settler violence against Palestinian residents of Hebron. I urge you to intervene to: 1) stop the settler attacks against Palestinians and 2) disarm the settlers of their weapons. If you are unable to do this, I call for the removal of the settlers from Hebron.
With prayers for a just Israeli/Palestinian peace,