The 25th of February 2014 marked 20 years since the massacre carried out by the Israeli Settler, Baruch Goldstein in the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron in which he killed 29 Palestinians and wounded 125.
Since then, Breaking the Silence was established, and Hebron has become a central location for the majority of our work in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As former IDF soldiers, we guide tours to the city of Hebron on a weekly basis, and are saddened and outraged by the ongoing existence and impact of the Israeli settlement in the center of the city.
From our ongoing work in the city, we have learned that the Goldstein Massacre marks an important turning point in the relations of the IDF toward the Palestinian population of Hebron, resulting in the current situation of the city today. The restrictions on movement that began in ’94 have strengthened and grown more sophisticated over the years, while the Second Intifada served to solidify the transformation of the city into a ghost town. There have been 1829 shops closed in the center of the city which has been abandoned due to the movement restrictions, 80% of the Palestinians subject to IDF rule are living under the poverty line, 18 army checkpoints are dispersed throughout the city and 650 IDF soldiers spend night and day guarding the less than 1000 settlers living in the heart of a Palestinian city.
In order to remind the Israeli public of the deterioration of Human Rights the city has experienced since this heinous act, we decided to mark the 20th year since the Goldstein Massacre. I am proud to tell you about the following activities in which we were engaged over the past month:
▪ Tens of tours to the city with local and international public figures and journalists, resulting in a large write up about the Massacre and Hebron in Israel’s leading tabloid newspaper, Yediot Ahronot and articles in the English language online publication The Times of Israel, the Spanish, RTVE and the French Lefigaro.
▪ We partook in a guerrilla activist campaign by posting fake closure notifications and anti-Arab slurs on shopfronts and on street signs in Tel Aviv.
▪ On the day of the anniversary itself, we held a conference at Tel Aviv University on the topic of the Massacre and Israel’s stance toward Jewish terrorism. Panelists included Prof. Menachem Yaari (member of the Shamgar Committee, which was established to investigate the Goldstein Massacre), MK Merav Michaeli and Former Chief of the Shabak (Israeli Secret Service) and Carmi Gilon who stated that “…nothing else is of importance in Israel, until the Occupation is concluded.”
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who joined us in the activities surrounding this important, but saddening milestone. We know, based on the large numbers we attracted to our tours, and the intense media interest which marked this solemn day, that we are reaching an increasingly wider audience in Israel and globally, who believe that the only way to live a just and moral life in Israel, is to end the Occupation.
We look forward to updating you with more positive news in the near future, and meanwhile invite you to follow our activities through Facebook and Twitter.
Wishing a speedy end to the Occupation and peace in all the region,
Director of Breaking the Silence