Hebron Learning Day

IDF (Zahal) Spokesperson

New seminar connects IDF (Zahal) soldiers with Palestinian liasion near the city of Dura near Hebron. “I came here because it’s important that you all understand the reality for Palestinians who live here. I want to speak with you about how people live here.”

Date: 31/10/2010, 6:43 PM    

Every time new IDF (Zahal) forces take their positions in Hebron, they begin with a day of learning about the region. This is the way it has been for years. But on Monday (Oct. 25), along with military forces and civilians serving in the region and convening in the auditorium of the Judea division, the Palestinian representative acting as Manager of the Office of the Palestinian Liaison in the city of Dura near Hebron, who is responsible for local villages, participated as well.

“You come here to partake in an IDF (Zahal) mission, I understand that and I respect it. There is one thing you must remember: when you are here, you are not only representing the army. For us, you are representatives of the entire Israeli society. It is critical that your soldiers’ behavior reflects that of a democratic Israel society, which treats people like human beings. I believe that is your policy, but sometimes soldiers’ behavior does not reflect what is dictated from above. That can have a very negative effect on life in the city.”

Shadid emphasized the importance of the connection, along with the importance of separation. “In the past few years there’s been a very positive change in the city. The level of security has risen, first and foremost because of the cooperation between us. And still, there is much left to be done.” He turned to the officers with a clear request, “Let us do it. We understand the population here, we understand the mentality. When there is law breaking on the side of the Palestinians, we fight it. As long as the army lets us take care of ourselves, both the friction and the insult will decrease.”

“What is elsewhere considered a trivial event is here considered with vast proportions.”

In a conversation with IDF (Zahal) Website, Division Commander, Col. Guy Hazut spoke of the day the officers experienced. It was the first seminar he participated in since taking on his position as division commander. “I was very involved in choosing the lecturers and in planning the day,” he said. “A day like this has a large influence, because it gives commanders tools they didn’t have before. Dealing with Hebron is not something you learn in officer’s training. It’s a different kind of sector. It’s the only place to date, in fact, where we have so much friction with the local population.”

“There are Palestinian civilians here, enemies embedded deep inside the population, many media organizations, human rights organizations and Israeli settlers with strong ideology. Dealing with each of them, separately and together, is very complex. What is elsewhere considered a trivial event is here considered with vast proportions.”

And so throughout the day the new officers serving in Hebron were offered many different perspectives. They heard from representatives from the Red Cross, the Har Hebron Regional Council and Israel Police. Haaretz Newspaper journalist Avi Issacharoff also spoke with them about his experience in the region and his insights about its situation today. The spokesperson for the Judea and Samaria Division spoke of the importance of understanding the media component of the area, and the Division Judicial Advisor spoke about the legal authority and obligations of her position.

“They are coming together for a true and complete understanding of the place,” concluded Col. Hazut. In response to the question of what is the most important insight to absorb on such a day, he answered without hesitation, “It’s important that they understand that nothing is black and white here. It’s a city of endless shades, and it’s important to be familiar with them and know them as deeply as possible. We must focus on being smart, not right.”