Monday, September 23, 2002

Succot Terror Attack

Succot Terror Attack
Sept. 23, 2002


At about 6:20 tonight an Arab terrorist opened fire on Jewish visitors in Hebron, near the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. One man was killed and two or three people were wounded, including two children who were shot in the legs and are listed in moderate condition.

During the Succot holiday, thousands visit Hebron. Today was no different. From early in the morning buses started pouring into Hebron, first for early morning prayers, including a traditional “Carlebach service” held outside in the Ma’arat HaMachpela Courtyard. Hundreds participated in this special event, which included Moshe Musa Berlin and his orchestra.

During the morning and afternoon thousands joined in touring the Jewish neighborhoods, walking the streets from Ma’arat HaMachpela to Avraham Avinu, to Beit Hadassah and also Tel Rumeida. This year several other special events were added: an amusement park for the children and tours of the Casba, which parallels the Jewish neighborhoods.

The Casba was an integral element of the pre-1929 Jewish community in Hebron. Many Jews owned homes and shops in the Casba. Following our return to Hebron, Jewish property in the Casba was not returned to its rightful owners, and many of the buildings were illegally occupied by Arabs. Since the signing of the Hebron Accords, almost six years ago, the Casba was declared off-limits to Jews, despite the fact that it is within the Jewish controlled part of the city.

For years Hebron’s leadership has demanded that the Casba be accessible to Jews and that our property be returned to us. We warned military officers and political leaders that Arafat’s forces were populating the Casba with terrorists and an absence of any Jewish presence in the Casba would lead to terror attacks aimed at the community.

Recently our efforts began to bear fruit. In coordination with the army, groups were allowed to tour the Casba once a week. This was not enough, but it was a start. Today, again, in coordination with the army, groups were allowed to tour the Casba, with a full military escort.  I myself participated in one of these half hour tours, not as a tour guide, rather as a photographer, clicking away as a group of Israelis visited the Casba for the first time.

It was an unbelievable day, with almost 10,000 people visiting us. Last year’s Succot holiday was marred by shooting attacks, which left two women wounded. We expected that this year, with the IDF back in the surrounding hills and patrolling in both sides of the city, today’s events would pass quietly.

At 2:30 in the afternoon the music festival began outside the Ma’ara. Haim Dovid began for almost an hour, followed by other talented young entertainers, performing for the masses outside in the Ma’arat HaMachpela courtyard. Everything went smoothly. Until six twenty.

A large group of people, on their way to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood passed by some soldiers, on their way to the eastern entrance to the neighborhood. A few people stayed behind to talk to the soldiers. Then, suddenly, a terrorist opened fire on them from a few meters away, from the Casba. One man was very critically injured and later died from his wounds. Several others were also wounded and are listed in moderate condition. The terrorist murderer escaped.

What is Hebron’s reaction to this atrocity. First of all, we are deeply saddened by the death of a fellow Jew, whose only crime was to be a Jew in Hebron. How is it that a person takes his family to enjoy a day during the Succot holiday and does not return home?  We convey our sincerest condolences to the victim’s family.

Just as happened last year, there are those who expect us to cancel tomorrow’s events because of today’s tragedy. However, we will do just the opposite. Tomorrow Hassidic Superstar Mordechai ben David will perform in Hebron as planned, as will other entertainers. Ma’arat HaMachpela will be open to Jewish visitors from morning till night, including Ohel Yitzhak, the Isaac Hall, opened only ten days a year to Jewish worshippers. We will not, under any circumstances, allow the terrorists to determine how we will live, what we will do, or where we will do it.

We expect the IDF and the Israeli government to take the necessary measures to ensure that no harm to come to anyone living in, or visiting in Hebron. The most appropriate action that could be taken must include the returning of all Jewish property in the Casba to its rightful owners. We must again be allowed to live, work and shop in the Casba, as in the past. The Arab terrorists who have confiscated our property must be evicted and Jews must again be at home in this section of Hebron. The Arabs must know that when they kill Jews, Jews will not give up and despair. Rather we will continue onward with extra strength and determination. So it must be in Hebron, and throughout the state of Israel.

So, if you are in Israel, the buses will be running all day, as they did today. Join us for Mordechai ben David’s concert in Hebron, and join with us in saying to our enemies: Hebron is our home. We are staying. Period.

With blessings from Hebron,
This is David Wilder

No comments:

Post a Comment