IMRA interviewed Noam Arnon, Spokesman for the Hebron Jewish Community, in Hebrew, on March 15, 1998:

IMRA: Is the IDF doing anything in reaction to the Palestinian rioters and shooters?

Arnon: The IDF soldiers on the scene are working night and day to guard and are making efforts but that isn’t the problem. The problem is that the Abu Sneinah hill has terrorists on it and the hill has been handed over to the Palestinian Authority along with the terrorists. The terrorists are there yet the IDF command does nothing about it and this is the problem. I have no complaints against soldiers here, my claim is against the policy of the army which is an ineffective and mistaken policy. The fact is that the terrorists are laughing at the army and shoot again and again from the same place and this isn’t being solved.

Now the Hebron agreement provides for hot pursuit but in practice the army does not carry out hot pursuit. It is all a matter of policy. In the agreement there are buffer areas which protect the Jewish community but in practice there are no buffer areas and the terrorists reach the dividing line itself. The agreement also talks about special arrangements on the commanding high ground but in practice there is nothing.

There is a conceptual problem here.

IMRA: With regards to what happened on Friday night, when Jewish settlers went into the Arab H1 area in protest, how do you respond to the charge that this causes a disruption which hurts the IDF’s ability to control the situation.

Arnon: This is a ridiculous claim. For four days the Arab disruptions took place. They attacked us with countless rocks, tens of fire bombs and explosive devices as well as gunfire coming down from the high ground in Abu Snenah. All of this was before Friday night. So the claim that the Israeli response was the cause of the situation is simply groundless.

Anyone who makes such a claim is assuming that his audience is stupid. The Jewish community of Hebron has been under many and various assaults – including gun fire – since the IDF withdrawal from out of Hebron. It has turned out that the Arabs who received the city, supposedly with peaceful intentions, actually want war. They use the area which they control to add to their war against us.

IMRA: Are we talking of something in waves?

Arnon: Yes, We are talking about waves, under the instruction of the Palestinian Authority. We are talking about something which happens every period of time or after a specific incident. First they promote the attacks and then they give out instructions to stop and reap the positive publicity for their hand in restoring order.

IMRA: If it is in waves so you know that it has an end…

Arnon: Yes, but it may end in dead. If a bomb drops in the yard of a kindergarten or if a fire bomb breaks inside a Jewish house, or rocks are thrown and hurt people, then it is an initiative of the Palestinian Authority to carry out terrorist and barbaric acts against the Jewish residents.

They received area as part of a peace agreement and instead use it in order to carry out a war. Therefore, the entire concept has to be changed. I am surprised that people who consider themselves open and reasonable should always identify themselves with the Arabs come what may. Even if the Jews are attacked they continue to identify themselves with the Arabs.

I would like also to mention that under the terms of the agreement, Jews are permitted to enter the Arab H1 area. This is explicitly written in the agreement. They prevent this, in violation of the agreement. So the side which is consistently violating the agreement is the Arab side.

IMRA: The claim heard is that yes, there are gunshots, but so far no one has been killed so what’s the big deal?

Arnon: This is ridiculous. Should we wait for something worse to happen? What purpose is there for an army which doesn’t take care of an enemy which shoots?

IMRA: If they respond with a massive response the outcome will be that this wave won’t end and instead will get larger.

Arnon: I don’t understand. When Katyushas rain down on communities in the North do they also decline to respond? I don’t understand the approach which says that we have to accept the situation that they shoot at us as a normal situation and not respond.

If the Palestinian Authority controls the area from which the shooting is coming then it is guilty. And if the PA can’t handle it then that’s what the IDF is for. The situation cannot go on this way.

IMRA: This situation – of shooting. Are you saying that it was a pastoral situation before the PA entered the scene?

Arnon: It wasn’t a pastoral situation but the IDF responded to attacks and dealt with terrorists. The area was given to the PA on the assumption that they would bring a peaceful situation. What has happened is the opposite. They don’t honor the most basic elements of the agreement which they committed themselves to.

IMRA: There are more attacks today then before?

Arnon: There have been more firebombs thrown in Hebron in the last year than during the entire intifada period. There is no question that the takeover of most of Hebron by the PA did not bring peace. They don’t talk of peace. They only talk of continuing the assault and continue with the violence. They themselves are responsible for the breakdown of the entire agreement.

Dr. Aaron Lerner,
Director IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis)
P.O.BOX 982 Kfar Sava
Tel: (+972-9) 760-4719
Fax: (+972-9) 741-1645