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View From The Hills: Meanwhile, in Judea and Samaria
By JOSH HASTEN
11/20/2012
Our thoughts and prayers are with the brave and moral soldiers of the IDF, and with their success, may the rockets and missiles which are now reaching our communities as well be grounded for good.
 
Throughout the day this past Friday as the IDF/IAF carried out sorties as part of Operation Pillar of Defense, I saw various Facebook posts from residents throughout Judea and Samaria reaching out to their fellow Israelis under fire.

These posts, half serious, have facetious, were directed toward those living in the south and in the Gush Dan area, inviting them to come as guests for Shabbat.

One such post read: “If anyone from Tel Aviv needs to come to the shtachim [settlements] where it’s a little more safe, you’re welcome to sleep by me.”

That sense of security ironically emanating from Judea and Samaria, of all places, was abruptly shattered minutes after sunset Friday evening as worshippers made their way to Shabbat services.

A siren which was heard all the way from Gush Etzion to Jerusalem to neighboring communities west of the city in the Judean hills along Route 1 sent petrified Israelis heading for bomb shelters.

While 24 hours earlier Hamas had flexed their missile capabilities by firing at Tel Aviv and Gush Dan, it was still believed by many that the Jerusalem area, perhaps because of its large Arab population, was immune from missile attack.

But that bubble was popped when at least one missile, while missing Jerusalem, did land near an Arab village somewhere in eastern Gush Etzion, causing a reverberating explosion heard throughout the entire Gush.

Reports confirmed one missile landing, with impact in an open area, while some claim to have heard two explosions.

In one surreal incident, an observant resident of Tekoa who serves on the community’s emergency search and rescue team, and who doesn’t hesitate to answer his phone on Shabbat, assuming the worst, was surprised to hear a frantic Arab acquaintance from a nearby village on the other end of the line with panic in his voice.

“Pinny, it’s Muhammad, what do I do? What’s happening? I heard your sirens.”

Pinny calmly explained that they were being fired upon from Gaza and the best thing Muhammad could do was to remain indoors and stay away from the widows.

“Thanks Pinny,” Muhammad said, profusely apologizing for calling on Shabbat. “Shabbat Shalom Pinny – and be’emet todah [I’m truly thankful].”

So with rockets falling on Judea and Samaria, a Palestinian Arab calls a Jewish settler for help. Surreal indeed.

But even with that example of neighborly coexistence, not all Palestinian Arabs have a problem with missiles falling on or near their villages – as long as it means Jews are also forced to flee into shelters.

As proof, the Arutz 7 Hebrew news website reported that a new song has been gaining popularity this week on radio waves and on YouTube among Palestinians and the rest of the Arab world, calling on Hamas to blow Tel Aviv to smithereens.

Written by Kassem el-Najar and Shadi el-Bureini, the lyrics include: “Blow up, blow up Tel Aviv, you occupier you know... We Palestinians do not want a ceasefire, not a solution, we want to bomb Tel Aviv, we want to bomb Tel Aviv.”

It’s no surprise then that last Wednesday, a day before Pillar of Defense was launched, violent demonstrations were organized by Palestinians throughout Judea and Samaria commemorating “Independence Day,” declared by Yasser Arafat and the Palestine National Council in 1988. Images from channel Two television news showed hundreds of Palestinian Arabs marching and chanting, “With a million shahidim [martyrs], we will march to Jerusalem.”

Both the song, which reeks of incitement, as well as the chants by protestors, prove yet again that peace with the Palestinian Authority is nowhere near a reality.

And finally, without even factoring in the rockets, let’s not forget about the daily violence in the form of rock attacks, fire-bombings, etc. still taking place on the roads throughout Judea and Samaria. Due to the above-mentioned protests, according to the weekly report of Arab-initiated attacks released by the emergency response organization, Hatzalah Yehudah and Shomron, this week was particularly violent.

One particular story, relegated to the back pages of newspapers, if mentioned at all, was an attack by Arabs on Jewish worshipers outside Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem.

According to reports, after launching a barrage of rocks, which forced the worshipers inside, terrorists tried to set the holy site on fire. However, thanks to the efforts of Border Police and area firefighters the rioters were dispersed and damage was kept to a minimum.

So of course the top story this week is the war in the south – I mean the south and the center. Or rather, the south, the center and the Jerusalem hills (so far). But even with the war, our realities in Judea and Samaria this week remained nearly unchanged.

On behalf of the residents of our communities, our thoughts and prayers are with the brave and moral soldiers of the IDF, as they put their lives on the line each and every day defending our small country. And with their success, and with God’s help, may the rockets and missiles which are now reaching our communities as well be grounded for good.

The writer is a media expert, freelance journalist, and host of Reality Bytes Radio, on www.israelnationalradio.com.
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