This article is dedicated to the memories of: Rabbi Shlomo Ra’anan, Danny Vargas, Rina Didovsky, Eliyahu ben Ami, Shalhevet Pas, Rabbi Eli and Dina Horowitz, Gadi and Dina Levy, Rabbi Shlomo Shapira, Col. Dror Weinberg , Lt. Dan Cohen, Sgt. Igor Drobitsky,Cpl. David Marcus, Ch.-Supt. Samih Sweidan, Sgt. Tomer Nov, Sgt. Gad Rahamim, St.-Sgt. Netanel Machluf, St.-Sgt. Yeshayahu Davidov, Yitzhak Buanish, Alexander Zwitman, Alexander Dohan, Avichai Levi, Aviad Mantzur, Yitzhak and Tali Ames, Kochava Even Chaim, and Avishai Shindler, Asher and Yonatan Palmer, Gal Kobi, HaShem Yikom Damam (and my apologies to anyone unintentionally forgotten). All killed in and around Hebron following signing and implementation of the Hebron Accords.
I started today by taking a good look at the date. Sure enough, January 20. Seventeen years.
The number 17 in Hebrew numerology equals the sum of Tov – meaning good.
Good is always relative.
Seventeen years ago today, on January 20, 1997, the ‘Hebron Accords,’ signed a short time earlier, were implemented. Hebron was divided, leaving 97% of the city inaccessible to Jews. Over 80% of the city was abandoned to Arafat, granting him and his terrorist regime full security control over most of the city.
I remember the day very well. I had an appointment in Jerusalem. Dr. Moshe Gottlieb z”l hy”d was an expert orthopedist. A few months earlier, during a demonstration here in Hebron, a policeman literally picked me up like a rag doll and tossed me to the side. A month later my back went out. That morning I went into Jerusalem for another treatment. Dr. Gottlieb had hands of gold and his magic touch was very effective.
Five years later, Dr. Gottlieb was on a bus which exploded in Gilo, killing him and 18 others. He was on his way to give free treatment to autistic children in Jerusalem.
When I arrived back in Hebron, the city was reminiscent of a three-ring circus. But not a happy one, at least not for us. Our Arab neighbors were celebrating. The IDF had withdrawn from most of the city. The picture of the Col Gadi Shamni, then military commander of Judea, leaving the Hebron military headquarters, remains embedded in my memory. It was reminiscent of surrender. In reality, that’s what it was.
Arafat’s Hebron commander, a well-known terrorist named Jibril Rajoub, as he occupied those headquarters, declared that ‘they had cast off an enormous weight, yet there still remained a yoke around their necks, which too would be shortly removed.’
For the record, it must be stated that, in essence, when Arafat signed the accords, he acknowledged the legitimacy of the Hebron Jewish community. But as we know, so much for signatures.
It wasn’t as if we were blind to the results of this catastrophic agreement. We warned of the consequences, and we weren’t wrong. Following outbreak of the “Olso war,” aka ‘the 2nd intifada, Hebron commander Noam Tibon was quoted as saying, in March 2001, “the Hebron Accords are a ‘crappy’ agreement.” He was, of course, reprimanded by his boss, the current chief of staff of the IDF, Benny Ganz. But of course he was right. His description was an understatement. We were shot at for almost two and a half years from hills surrounding us, abandoned to Arafat.
And let’s not forget the terrorists who planned their murderous attacks in Hebron, and then perpetrated them throughout Israel. For example: The Jihad Soccer Club.
Where does that leave us today? How can we learn from the past? Or, perhaps better asked, have we learned from the past?
The answer is a resounding no.
Yesterday I heard that former Likud minister Dan Meridor said that should the present ‘peace talks’ fail, Israel must decide on borders and again, unilaterally ‘withdraw,’ or in other words, retreat, abandon, etc.