Just days after Jewish settlers in Hebron defaced Muslim gravestones with Stars of David — borrowing a page from neo-Nazi thugs in Europe — The New York Times finds some good news in Hebron: Israeli and Palestinian security forces are cooperating in the volatile city to bring down crime and intra-Palestinian violence, and ward off confrontations between Arabs and Jewish extremists.
Ethan Bronner reports:
Hebron, the West Bank’s most explosive city, with a combustible mix of hard-line Jewish settlers and Palestinian militants from Hamas and other groups, is undergoing a shake-up through the introduction of hundreds of Palestinian security officers who over the past month have stopped car thefts, foiled drug deals and arrested scores of Hamas gunmen, even seizing explosives and suicide belts. They have also focused on quality-of-life issues like fighting clans and the sales of outdated food and medicine by criminal gangs.
The Palestinian commander, Brig. Gen. Sameh al-Sifi, has dubbed the deployment Homeland Rising. And while that may seem a lofty name for a law-and-order operation, he has a point. The injection of the newly trained security forces into Israeli-occupied Hebron is, both sides agree, a significant step if there is ever to be a Palestinian state.
“Our leadership wants us to foil terrorists,” General Sifi, 62, said in an interview. “There will be no legal weapons here except those used by the Palestinian Authority. My ambition is the same as that of my Israeli counterpart — to see our grandchildren enjoying their lives like the rest of the world.”