Following settler attacks, Hebron residents feel anger and fear

IDF spokesman: Soldiers "did not sand by passively" during the disturbances.

hebron 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
hebron 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi )
Hebron resident Faez Rajabi was feeling a mix of emotions on Sunday. On the one hand, he was pleased that the disputed four-story apartment building in Hebron that he built for himself and his family was no longer inhabited by settlers. On the other, he lamented the turmoil that erupted during Thursday's eviction of the settlers from the home, as mostly young extremist settlers attacked policemen, set homes and cars on fire, shot at residents and broke windows and satellite dishes. "I am happy that they left my house, but angry that they attacked people," including women and children, Rajabi said from his late father's house, where he lives with some of his family members. Rajabi said he had built the house - which the settlers said he had sold to them through an agent - for his family, which includes three wives and 25 children. He said that he had put "everything he owns" into the house. The settlers moved in without the necessary government approval early last year, and last month the Supreme Court ordered them evicted until a lower court decided who the rightful owner was. Meanwhile, people who live and work in Hebron said they were fearful of additional violence that could erupt next. "There is general worry in the city because at any time, the settlers can attack any house, any car," said Ahmed Malhem, who owns a clothing shop in Hebron and lives in Bethlehem. "There is no security." Hebron resident Kayad Dana, who lives meters away from the Kiryat Arba settlement, said his home was among those attacked by rioting settlers on Thursday, starting at 4 p.m. and going until 8 a.m. the next day. Dana said he had expected the army to do more to curb the violence against them. Settlers threw rocks at his family and tried repeatedly to set fire to their home, he said. Two of his children were injured and taken to the hospital following Thursday's incident. "We knew that we were under Israeli protection, and we thought that they would come and help us," he said. An army spokesman responded that during the evacuation of the disputed home, dozens of army medical teams were at work in the area. Wounded Palestinians were treated on sight and then transferred for further treatment with the Red Crescent, he said. The army forces - police and border patrol - "did not stand by passively" during the disturbances, he said. In addition, in preparation for the evacuation, hundreds of police and security forces were added as reinforcements to the whole region, and particularly to Hebron, to cope with any incidents of violence. AP contributed to this report.