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BBC News Front Page | World | In Depth | Israel and the Palestinians
Voices of Conflict
Sleiman Shimlawi: West Bank farmer
Efrat Gamlieli: Jerusalem resident
Nidhal: Youth on the Gaza Strip
Asher Susser: Israeli academic
Nakhle Beshara: Doctor in Nazareth
Gilad Ben Nun: Israeli peace activist
Paul Adams: BBC correspondent
David Wilder: Jewish settler in Hebron
Ghada Karmi: Palestinian academic
David Wilder
David Wilder is the spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron in the West Bank. Originally from New Jersey in the United States, Mr Wilder has lived in Hebron for 19 years. Mr Wilder tells BBC News Online of the fears and tension felt by Jewish settlers in Hebron following the recent violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories.

It is somewhat surrealistic. We were sitting in our succa (a temporary shelter where observant Jews eat and sleep for a week, during the holiday of Succot). Myself, my wife, my seven children and my son-in-law, partaking of a festive meal, and all around us - bang, ra-ta-ta-ta-tat, boom, bang.

So it was for us, not too long ago, and for all of Hebron's Jewish community. And so it has been nightly, for almost three weeks.

On the first night of shooting Menachem and Delly Landau fell asleep in their living room, in the Avraham Avinu neighbourhood.

Abruptly awakened at 2:30 in the morning by terrorist gunfire, they were appalled to hear bullets ricocheting off the outside wall of their apartment.

Later that morning they discovered that the bullets missed the sliding glass door into their apartment by about three centimetres.

Since then, their living room is off limits every night, as are most other rooms in their apartment, which face the source of the gunfire, the Abu Sneneh hills, to the south of the community.

The Tel Rumeida neighbourhood is home to seven Hebron families living in "caravan" houses. The walls are little more than plasterboard. On the first night of Succot shots rang out from the Harat al-Shech hills to the north of Hebron.

Bullets penetrated the residence of Gavriel and Bracha Ben-Yitzhak and their 12 children. One bullet pierced three walls in the house before coming to a halt. Fortunately, no one was hit.

In our apartment in the Beit Hadassah complex all the bedroom windows face Harat al-Shech.

Some of the windows are piled high with sandbags, protecting the room's children. One room has been taken over by the army.

Israeli Defence Force (IDF) sharpshooters spend every night peering out the bedroom window searching the hills opposite for would-be shooting attackers.

These hills surrounding Hebron's Jewish community were transferred to Yasser Arafat and the Palestinian Authority three and a half years ago, as part of the Hebron Accords.

At the time we warned Israeli politicians, as well as senior military officials, that these hills would be a source of terrorist gunfire on Hebron's Jewish neighbourhoods.

At present the IDF is doing the best it possibly can to protect Jews in Hebron. Unfortunately, this is not enough. The fact is, the shooting continues night after night.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak has the army hand cuffed.

An Israeli Vulcan attack helicopter, hovering over the hills, is ordered to open fire, but only on open ground and not on the source of terrorist gunfire.

This scare tactic is effective, for one or two days only. Small missiles, capable of destroying walls used for terrorist defensive positions, are held in check.

The IDF must be instructed to take all actions necessary, including the recapturing of the hills overlooking the Jewish neighbourhoods of Hebron.

An additional problem involves the closing of major roads. In many cases the army, rather than attempt to ensure security on the roads, simply closes them.

One example concerns the trans-Judea highway, leading from Hebron to Ashkelon via Kiryat Gat.

Above this road, a few kilometres out of Hebron, is the Halhul Bridge, which is under Palestinian control.

The road beneath is under Israeli control. Arabs used the bridge to hurl rocks and boulders at any moving vehicle with Israeli license plates travelling under it. Rather than recapture or destroy the bridge, Israel has closed the road.

The warfare of the past few weeks has put us at the centre of Arab terrorist Kalashnikov crosshairs. This situation cannot be allowed to continue.

We know that the IDF is doing all in its power to offer us safety. Still, restrictions do not allow them to actualise all measures at their disposal to protect us.

Mr Barak, please take off the handcuffs and let the army finish the job it has started.

Abruptly awakened at 2:30 in the morning by terrorist gunfire, they were appalled to hear bullets ricocheting off the outside wall of their apartment
Boy with soldier
The warfare of the past few weeks has put us at the centre of Arab terrorist Kalashnikov crosshairs
Funeral
At present the IDF is doing the best it possibly can to protect Jews in Hebron. Unfortunately, this is not enough
Mr Barak, please take off the handcuffs and let the army finish the job it has started
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