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Photo Essay: Israeli settlers celebrate Purim in Hebron

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Today, around 300 Israeli settlers marched down Shuhada Street towards the Ibrahimi mosque in the H2 area of Hebron to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim, under the protection of Israeli soldiers and police. The starting point of the parade had been announced as “Elor Azaria” junction, a reference to the spot where Azaria, an Israeli soldier and medic, had killed an incapacitated Palestinian in March 2016 and was subsequently sentenced by an Israeli court. He was freed from prison only after having served 9 months.

Around 300 Settlers march down Shuhada Street to the Ibrahimi mosque and the Cave of the Patriarchs to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim

Around 300 Israeli settlers march down Shuhada Street to the Ibrahimi mosque and the Cave of the Patriarchs to celebrate the Jewish holiday of Purim, March 21, 2019. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the story in the book of Esther where the Jewish people were saved from a plan to wipe them out during the ancient Persian Empire. The holiday is often celebrated with festive gatherings where people dress in costumes.

An Israeli child dressed with a keffiyeh and fake suicide bomb belt participates in the settler Purim march

An Israeli child dressed with a keffiyeh and fake suicide bomb belt participates in the settler Purim parade in the H2 area of the West Bank city of Hebron, March 21, 2019. (Photo: Activestills.org)

A Israeli woman dressed as an "Arab" wearing a fake baby and a weapon marching in the settler Purim march in the H2 area of the West Bank city of Hebron

A Israeli woman dressed as an “Arab” wearing a fake baby and a weapon marching in the settler Purim parade in the H2 area of the West Bank city of Hebron, March 21, 2019. (Photo: Activestills.org)

An Israeli child dressed up as a soldier participates to the settler Purim march in the H2 area of the West Bank city of Hebron, March 21, 2019. (Photo: Activestills.org)

An Israeli child dressed up as a soldier participates to the settler Purim parade in the H2 area of the West Bank city of Hebron, March 21, 2019. (Photo: Activestills.org)

The march was accompanied by loud music and many participants dressed up in costumes, some of them wearing keffiyehs and supposedly Arab clothes with fake suicide bombs, while some Palestinian residents watched from behind their fenced windows and were not allowed to pass. Some participants were also dressed up as members as TIPH, the international human rights observers who were recently expelled from the city by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. The departure of the international observers from Hebron was celebrated by the Israeli settlers, who also routinely harass journalists and international activists who document the human rights abuses that Palestinians face in the area. 

Israeli settler dressed up as a member of the international human rights observer group TIPH

An Israeli settler dressed as a member of the international human rights observer group TIPH that was recently barred from the city of Hebron participates in a Purim parade in the H2 area on March 21, 2019. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Since 1997, Hebron has been divided into H2 and H1.  The H2 area in Hebron is under full Israeli control and is inhabited by approximately 35,000 Palestinians and 500 Israeli settlers who are protected by hundreds of Israeli soldiers. Palestinians in the area face daily harrassment by the Israeli settlers and soldiers and impediments to their freedom of movement. Shuhada street, once a bustling street in the city, has become a ghost town, and hundreds of its Palestinians shops have been closed. 

Israeli settlers dance on top of Palestinian homes

Israeli settlers dance on top of Palestinian homes during a Purim parade in the H2 area of the West Bank city of Hebron, March 21, 2019. (Photo: Activestills.org)

The day before the march, it was reported that the Israeli forces raided the Haj Ziad Jaber School in Hebron and took away a 10-year-old Palestinian boy. The march also took place as four Palestinians had been killed in the West Bank by Israeli forces in the previous 24 hours.

Two Israeli settlers harass a Palestinian man during a Purim parade in the H2 area of the West Bank city of Hebron, March 21, 2019. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Two Israeli settlers harass a Palestinian man during a Purim parade in the H2 area of the West Bank city of Hebron, March 21, 2019. (Photo: Activestills.org)

The main checkpoints leading to the area where the parade was taking place were closed to Palestinians during the event.

During the Purim holiday, Israel has imposed a four-day closure on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which will end on midnight on Saturday.

Israeli soldiers prevent Palestinians from accessing the area where the Purim march is taking place, March 21, 2019.

Israeli soldiers prevent Palestinians from accessing the area where the Purim parade is taking place, March 21, 2019. (Photo: Activestills.org)

armed Israeli settler participates in the Purim march

An armed Israeli settler participates in the Purim parade in the H2 area of the West Bank city of Hebron, March 21, 2019. (Photo: Activestills)

An Israeli child is dressed up as a cowboy. (Photo: Activestills.org

An Israeli child is dressed up as a cowboy. (Photo: Activestills.org)

Ahmad Al-Bazz

Ahmad Al-Bazz, born in 1993, is a multi-award winning journalist, photographer and documentary filmmaker based in the West Bank city of Nablus. Ahmad holds an MA degree in Television Studies from the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom, and a BA degree in Media and Mass Communication from An-Najah National University in Palestine. Since 2012, Ahmad has been a member of the Activestills documentary photography collective that operates in Palestine/Israel region.

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Anne Paq

Anne Paq is a French photographer, member of the photo collective Activestills. She is currently back in Palestine and working on a long-term project on Gaza called 'Obliterated Families'.

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8 Responses

  1. Henry Norr on March 21, 2019, 4:43 pm

    “Purim is a Jewish holiday that commemorates the story in the book of Esther where the Jewish people were saved from a plan to wipe them out during the ancient Persian Empire.”

    True enough, but as I wrote here on Purim in 2011, the holiday also commemorates what, according to the biblical book of Esther, followed the foiling of Haman’s genocidal plot. From my post back then, entitled “We planned the Purim party, then my partner actually read the Book of Esther…”:

    http://mondoweiss.net/2011/03/we-planned-the-purim-party-then-my-partner-actually-read-the-book-of-esther/

    the king [Ahasuerus] “told his queen {Esther] and her uncle [Mordecai] to ‘write as you please about the Jews, in the name of the king.’ The order they composed didn’t merely call off the planned genocide – it turned the tables, authorizing the Jews ‘to destroy, to kill, and to annihilate any armed force of any people or province that might attack them’ and to plunder their property, all on the very day Haman had designated for the attack.

    “In the event, the Jews didn’t bother to loot anything, the Bible tells us, but they killed Haman’s 10 sons and 500 other people in Shusan alone. At the end of the day, when all this was reported to Ahasuerus, he asked Esther if she had any further favors to request. In response, she asked not only to have the corpses of Haman’s 10 sons hanged from the gallows, but also for the royal go-ahead for another day of killing. The king granted her wish, the sons’ bodies were strung up, and another 300 people were killed in Shusan. Around the empire, the Jews did in a total of 75,000 of their ‘enemies’!”

    I’d say the Jewish settlers’ celebration in Hebron was more in the spirit of the little-known second half of the story than of the famous first half.

  2. John O on March 21, 2019, 7:41 pm

    “Israeli child dressed with a keffiyeh and fake suicide bomb belt”

    In any sane society, social services would take that child into care, as the parents are clearly not fit for purpose.

    • Marnie on March 22, 2019, 2:50 am

      @John O

      ‘In any sane society…..’. Well I would certainly hope so John. Obviously israeli society is unfit for everyone exposed to it. The settler invaders are among the worst because they put their children in danger by forcing them to live on stolen land and feed them a narrative based on hatred only. They create little monsters who will grow up to be big monsters.

    • Misterioso on March 22, 2019, 10:13 am

      @John O

      Well said!! I couldn’t agree more. The photo further confirms that the entity referred to as “Israel” is fascistic and racist to the core. The scene reminds me of what took place in Nazi Germany when young boys were indoctrinated into the Hitler Youth.

  3. RoHa on March 21, 2019, 8:46 pm
  4. Ronald Johnson on March 22, 2019, 7:31 am

    The Book of Esther replays, and replays; the he current King Ahasuerus appears to be Donald Trump.

  5. Sulphurdunn on March 22, 2019, 8:44 am

    Whenever I see photos and read articles like this, my first instinct is incredulity. The settlers’ celebratory mood and gleeful faces remind me of old black and white photographs of public lynchings in the South.

  6. eljay on March 22, 2019, 6:10 pm

    For Jewish Israelis to celebrate…
    – an incident of authorized mass murder of non-Jews by Jews;
    – in not-Israel and with utter disrespect for the non-Jews whose territory they are militarily-occupying and colonizing and against whom they deliberately and unapologetically commit (war) crimes,
    …takes Jewish supremacist (Zionist) hatefulness and immorality to a whole ‘nother level.

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