Monday, September 9, 2002

Five Hundred Meters and Five Minutes

Five Hundred Meters and Five Minutes
September 9, 2002
On September 2nd, I experienced one of the most bizarre events I can remember.

Deputy Minister of Construction and Housing, Rabbi Meir Porush of Agudat Israel, arrived to visit Hebron. Meir Porush is a very good friend of Hebron and was quite instrumental in the past, providing assistance for major building projects. Before attending a working lunch, the deputy minister toured the Jewish community of Hebron. However, this tour was set apart from other such tours because it began, not in one of Hebron's neighborhoods, rather in the hills overlooking Hebron's neighborhoods.

Our first stop was none other than the Shalhevet Hills, otherwise known as Abu Sneneh. I haven't been on top of these hills for almost six years, since Hebron was abandoned to the terrorists. Way back when, we used to take groups up on the hills, looking down on Maarat Hamachpela and the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, letting the view do the talking. The targets were crystal clear. It was just a matter of time before we became sitting ducks in a pond.

Unfortunately, of course, our fears materialized. Not because we are prophets, but only because we have eyes in our heads, eyes that are open, and we know whom our neighbors are.

The IDF has been back in the hills for the past few months, and yesterday, in the company of Deputy Minister Meir Porush, we went up to visit. And you know what? It still looks the same. With only a few exceptions, all the buildings are still there, the same roads, and looking down below, the same targets.

Following our tour of Abu Sneneh, which is just south of the community, we took a short trip to the north, and ascended the Harat a-Sheikh hills, which overlook the Beit Hadassah neighborhood, Beit Romano and Tel Rumeida. I had never before visited this part of Hebron. When we stopped and left our cars, I looked down and could not believe my eyes. Right there in front of me, maybe five hundred meters away, were the windows of my apartment in Beit Hadassah. Five hundred meters and five minutes, because that's how long it took to reach the lookout from Beit Hadassah.

Across the way sit the Tel Rumeida caravan homes, just waiting for a terrorist to take aim and fire. A good high-powered rifle with a telescope is all that's needed to easily hit these homes. And get hit they did, time after time after time.

Looking down at Beit Hadassah I had trouble keeping my composure. I could clearly see the window hit by terrorist sniper fire about a year and a half ago, gunfire that missed two of my girls literally by inches. It was astounding.

What was even more astounding was that for over a year and a half terrorists shot at us from these two hills, from Abu Sneneh and Harat a-Sheikh, five minutes from our homes, and the IDF was not allowed to do anything to stop the shooting. From these hills Shalhevet Pass was murdered. From these hills the Meshulam boys and David Struk were shot and wounded. From these hills thousands of rounds were aimed at us - from a distance of five minutes, and the IDF was not permitted to climb those hills and stop the shooting. Today, there aren't a great number of Israeli troops on the hills, but the very fact that they are there at all is enough to prevent continued attacks.

The most incredible part of our tour was the fact that there are those in the Israeli government, namely the Defense Minister and very possibly the Prime Minister, who are willing to give the hills back to the terrorists, pulling out our troops and again leaving us at the mercy of Arafat, Dahlan and the rest of the them. There are no words to express the sensations of total disbelief. It really is just -unbelievable.

I photographed the view from these two hills, and later, looking at the pictures, almost had to pinch myself to convince myself that what I was looking at was real.

But, in truth, the problem isn't here in Hebron. The problem is throughout Israel. We are caught up in a Catch 22. Why did Israel retake the cities in Yesha? Because they were being used as terror bases by the PA, used to plan attacks and later, as refuges. As soon as Israel retook the cities, most of the terrorism stopped. Now, after a couple of weeks of relative quiet, the politicians are saying, "things have quieted down, now we can leave the cities and restart the negotiations." But everyone knows that as soon as we leave the cities, the terror will inevitably start again. And when the terror starts, it doesn?t only hit Hebron, but also Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and the rest of the cities in Israel. We've been on this road before - the first time we weren't wrong, and this time we won't be wrong either.

The only answer is to stay in the cities - of course for security reasons, but more importantly, because they are an intrinsic part of Eretz Yisrael, of our homeland and our heritage.

The current 'deal' called "Bethlehem and Gaza First?, supposedly to be followed by Hebron and the rest of the cities in Yesha, is an attempt by the left to again resuscitate Oslo - to try and revive the dead. No, not to revive the over 600 people who have been killed over the past two years ? we?ll have to wait for G-d to do that. Rather they want to resuscitate the process that was the ultimate cause of these deaths.

As we approach Yom Kippur and the High Holy Days, let us hope that our leaders will take stock of what has happened and look forward to where we are going, and then, using very simple common sense, will leave Oslo dead and buried in the past rather than trying to play politics with the lives of their people in the present and future.

Shana Tova - with blessings from Hebron.

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