TIPH Gone!

The TIPH was the Temporary International Presence in Hebron.  Note that it was intended to be temporary, and was renewed every 6 months by both sides, Israel and the PA, for 22 years, since 1997.  That is certainly stretching the meaning of “temporary.”  The TIPH was intended as a peace-keeping presence in Hebron to monitor the activities of the two sides, consisting of ca. 3,000 Jews and ca. 220,000 Arabs.

But, in fact, the TIPH was overwhelmingly pro-Palestinian, with 64 civilian observers from  Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy and Turkey.  They spent all their time monitoring the activities of the Jewish inhabitants and the IDF and none on the Palestinians.  The theory was that the Jews were the interlopers, and it was natural that the Hebron Arabs resented them.

The fact that there had been a Jewish community in Hebron from time immemorial until 1929 was largely lost on the TIPH.  In 1929 there was an Arab riot that resulted in the massacre of 133 Jews and then the British, who were in charge, forced the remainder ofthe Jews to  move to Jerusalem (where there had also been an Arab riot and massacre of Jews).   That spelled the absence of Jews from Hebron for 38 years, until the IDF recaptured the area in the Six Day War of 1967, and Jews returned.

The Arabs of Hebron did everything they could to stop the return of Jews to Hebron, but under the agreement of 1997 that divided the city, the Arabs got 80% and the Jews 20%. But that was not enough for them, so they continued rioting and shooting, until the agreement introduced the TIPH.

I visited Hebron with a tourist group about 10 years ago.  While I was there we visited the Hadassah building, and I went across to the TIPH guards who were watching every movement.  I chatted to one of the civilian monitors in English.  As far as he was concerned I was an American tourist.  He told me that most of the trouble was due to the Jews, that they were an irritant there and probably shouldn’t be there.  Never mind that the Cave of Machpelah is nearby with the graves of the Jewish patriarchs and the building over them built by Herod the Great in the style of the Temple in Jerusalem.  During the Muslim period for over 800 years Jews were not allowed to go above the third step of the entrance to pray as a sign of humiliation.  After its conquest by Israel the holy site (called a Mosque by the Muslims) was divided into two for Jewish and Muslim prayers (note they were given equal time, no attempt to humiliate them).  But, of course this was not enough for them.

I am glad that Netanyahu has stopped the TIPH, let the IDF take care of peace-keeping there.  However, the reason for the timing now is that Netanyahu feels the pressure from the right, and so to keep his base he has had to take some steps.  Another is his commitment that under his Administration no Jew will be forced to leave their homes in the territories, that should belong to Israel by right of priority and legally as the sovereign successor to the British Mandate.

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