UPDATES 11 am Israel time, Monday, September 23 2013:
*In the wake of yesterday’s killing of 20 year old Sgt. Gal Kobi in Hebron by a Palestinian terrorist sniper, there have been widespread disturbances in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria:
–Terrorists threw an IED at an IDF roadblock into the Shuafat neighborhood of Jerusalem.
–Gunfire has been reported just east of Shechem (Nablus).
–The IDF is currently clashing with Palestinian rioters at the Palestinian settlement of Al-Foar near Hebron.
–There is fighting throughout Hebron itself with the IDF continuing to go door to door and rooftop to rooftop looking for the perpetrator of yesterday’s crime.
*There has been an outpouring of outrage from Israeli government ministers in Bayit Yehudi and Netanyahu’s own Likud Beiteinu this morning–all demanding that Israel cut off talks with the Palestinians.
*As for Netanyahu himself, he seems to have briefly awakened from his slumber, declaring that “Anyone who tries to uproot us from the city of our fathers will achieve the opposite. We will continue to fight terrorism with one hand and hit the terrorists, and we will continue with the other hand to strengthen the settlements.” At the same time, Netanyahu ordered the Israel Civil Administration to permit the rightful Jewish owners of Beit Hamachpela (a “disputed” house in Hebron) to regain their residence there.
*There was mortar fire by Hamas terrorists directed at an IDF patrol on the Gaza border yesterday, and small arms fire directed at an IDF patrol along the Israeli Golan Heights yesterday.
*An update on the Jordan Valley incident three days ago. This morning Israel has declared French European envoy Marion Castaing persona non grata and ordered her immediate expulsion from the country.
This comes after Castaing fabricated a story about being “dragged” out of a truck carrying supposed “humanitarian” supplies to Bedouins. Subsequent video showed that she exited the truck of her own accord, dropped to the ground of her own accord, was verbally coaxed to her feet by IDF soldiers, and then proceeded to punch an IDF officer in the face. You can see the video of her striking the IDF soldier by clicking on this youtube link.
Have you ever had a “funny feeling” that something bad was about to happen?
Yesterday, your humble servant and family were in Hebron. Let me tell you the story of what happened.
We arrived in the city from the south through the Kiryat Arba neighborhood. Passing through numerous gates and police and IDF checkpoints, we came to the Me’arat Hamachpelah (Cave of the Patriarchs) at about 2 pm.
The streets leading to the compound and the courtyard itself were full of Jews attempting to get into the building to pray at the Tombs of Avraham (Abraham) and Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca, and Jacob and Leah. Police estimated that there were more than 10,000 people there.
We threaded our way through the boisterous crowd and entered the compound (which is actually a huge mosque built by Muslims on top of the Jewish cave). Fighting through a surging sea of noisy humanity in the narrow passageways of the building, we finally made it into the rooms holding the coffins of the patriarchs and matriarchs.
At around 4:00 pm, we exited the building and walked along the street in front of the compound where vendors were selling everything from religious musical cds to popcorn to jewelry to pizza. By 4:15, we had walked down the street to the Avraham Avinu Jewish neighborhood.
Turning into that neighborhood, the first thing we saw was the mosaic wall memorial to Shalhevet Pas, the 10 month old child who was murdered at that spot by a Palestinian sniper back in March 2001. She was shot in the head while she was in her baby stroller.
We then walked into the neighborhood, past a play structure, and down a short walkway to the synagogue which dates back to the 1500s. The afternoon service was going on so we waited outside where we happened to run into Knesset Member Orit Struck of Bayit Yehudi, who is a long time resident of the neighborhood. It was about 4:20.
For the next 20 minutes, Ms Struck, in a soft but clear voice, told us some fascinating history of the area focusing on the “appearance” and then “disappearance” of Avraham himself one time when it was necessary to have a minyan.
The oddity is that while Ms. Struck was talking, I had the distinct impression that we were being watched from the nearby rooftops–and started taking pictures of some of those rooftops. Specifically, I was concerned that a sniper could easily shoot any one of us.
At about 4:45, Ms. Struck finished, and we quickly entered the synagogue. Five minutes later, we hurried back to our bus–arriving there at around 5 pm. We then proceeded to leave back through the various checkpoints, and by 5:30 we were on the road to Tel Aviv. I have to say that many people on the bus, not the least of whom was the bus driver himself, were relieved to be out of city.
Shortly thereafter came word on the bus radio that an Israeli soldier had been shot in the neck by a Palestinian sniper in Hebron and was critically wounded. Another report that we accessed on our telephones was that he was dead. The time was about 6 pm.
The circumstances of his death were unclear–and remain so this morning. According to one report Gal was shot to death in the Avraham Avinu neighborhood right beside the place we had been standing while listening to Orit Struck. Another report was that he was murdered at the “Pharmacy Checkpoint” near the Cave of the Patriarchs, also known as Strawberry-Tariq, which we passed through twice yesterday.
By last night, his death was confirmed.
He was Sgt. Gal Kobi, a 20 year old infantryman and a proud Zionist shot down in the prime of his life.
Addendum: Pictures will be posted on this blog today as your humble servant uploads them to his computer.
Addendum 2: Readers of this blog should continue to use Firefox or Explorer–Google Chrome is currently malfunctioning with WordPress.