Meretz aide gets into hot water in Hebron

Assistant to Beilin, Spanish journalist showered with hot water by right-wing activists protesting visit by Meretz activists.

beilin 224.88  (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
beilin 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
An assistant to MK Yossi Beilin and a Spanish journalist were showered with hot water by right-wing activists protesting a visit by Meretz activists to Hebron, Tuesday. Neither was injured. The Meretz members visited to support the rights group Breaking the Silence (Shovrim Shtika), which was barred by security forces from entering the Israeli-controlled part of Hebron following an illegal rally in April. A few weeks ago, a compromise with the police allowed the group to return to the city on a three-month trial basis so long as it coordinated its activities with security forces. On Tuesday, Meretz and Breaking the Silence members marched down a main street in Hebron and also visited the home of Palestinian shop owner Hani Abuhaikal. Beilin told The Jerusalem Post he found the initial decision to bar Breaking the Silence activists from the city "mind boggling." He added, "This is something we really wanted to protest. They are not the lunatics who are shouting and screaming." Beilin also said he wanted to show the Palestinians in Hebron "that there are other kinds of Israelis and Jews who do not support the harassment of Palestinians at the hands of the settlers." Right-wing protesters accosted the visitors, accusing them of being traitors and criminals, and blasted music out of loudspeakers to drown out media interviews. Following the water-pouring incident, the Spanish journalist lodged a complaint that resulted in the detainment of a Betar Illit resident for questioning, police said, but as of press time no charges had been filed against him. Hebron Jewish community spokesman David Wilder, who was among the protesters, said he was unaware that hot water had been poured on any of the visitors. "From all I could see, there was no violence whatsoever," said Wilder. He added that he believed Breaking the Silence members came to Hebron to incite the Palestinian community and thus were endangering the lives of Jewish residents, who were vulnerable to attacks by Palestinians. "Just as a Jew today cannot go and protest in [the Israeli Arab city] of Umm el-Fahm, why should they [left-wing protesters] come to Hebron?" he asked. But Abuhaikal, a father of four, told the Post he desired nothing more than to live in peace with his neighbors. He told the Meretz parliamentarians that it was both the settlers and the security forces who made his life in Hebron hard. While Abuhaikal lives in the Israeli-controlled area of Hebron, his shop is in the Palestinian area, meaning he passes four checkpoints during his 10-minute walk to work. "The army prevents me from driving a car up the hill to my house and they stopped me from even bringing a canister of gas, needed for cooking," he said. "They [Meretz MKs] visited me a couple of years ago and they visited me today, but the situation now is worse. The settlers attack us on their holidays and they provoke our kids when they go to school," he said. In such situations, he said, the army protects the settlers - not the Palestinians - and police do not heed his complaints, he said. But according to a soldier at one of the checkpoints, the reverse is true. "It is the settlers who are in danger from the Palestinians," he said. "The Palestinians can walk down the street without fear of being killed by the settlers, but the settlers don't have that same sense of security." Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.