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explore: Hebron
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In Hebron, human rights organization B'Tselem is giving children video cameras to document their daily lives, hoping that it will lessen violence between Palestinians and Jews.

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Produced by explore.

Learn more about B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

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Segment 1

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explore
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explore went on a philanthropic fact-finding mission to Hebron to observe the state of human rights in this contentious city.
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Hebron
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN [Founder, explore]
We were invited to tour the city of Hebron, in the West Bank, by a human rights organization known as B'Tselem. Our guide in Hebron was Oren Yakobovich. Once an officer in the Israeli army, Oren was so affected by the situation in the West Bank that he joined B'Tselem. He brought us to Hebron to show us just how bad things have gotten. Following the Second Intifada, which started in 2000, the Israeli army had kept a constant force here, and restricted movement of Arab residents.
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Intifada is an Arabic word for "uprising." It literally means "shaking off."
OREN YAKOBOVICH [Director of Video, B'Tselem]
All right, you see we're walking now where the Palestinians can walk. Here, the Palestinians can walk. And then they have to take a left. And they have a certain gate. And it's not that it's open from here out. It's just one certain point that they go through and go back to H1, to where the rest of the Palestinians are living.
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Hebron has been divided into two areas: H1 and H2.
OREN YAKOBOVICH
You see all these houses around? You see how everything is closed? So you can see easily that there is hardly any life here.
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The restriction of movement is so great that most Palestinians have left the H2 area.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
The abandoned area is now being settled by what many call extremist Jews, who claim the land was stolen from them after the horrific massacre of 67 Jews in 1929.
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These buildings were constructed on land purchased by the Hebron Jewish community in 1807. This land was stolen by Arabs following the murder of 67 Hebron Jews in 1929. We demand justice! Return our property to us! -- The Jewish Community of Hebron.
OREN YAKOBOVICH
You see the same system running all over the West Bank. You see separation of the population, you see restriction of movement.
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You must be at least 13 years old to be charged with a criminal act in Israel.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
It's so weird.
OREN YAKOBOVICH
And they're running free!
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
I know, it's so bizarre. These kids are going through like it's just normal, you know?
OREN YAKOBOVICH
You know, the kids here are part of the game and part of the war. Because if you are a child and you're below 13, you cannot, they cannot charge you with a criminal act. So what they're doing, the father and the mother will say, "Go!" And they send them. The children will attack me.
MAN
They attack you?
OREN YAKOBOVICH
Yeah. But the kids, you cannot do anything about them. So, you know you're filming and suddenly you're getting hit on the ass or on the leg or on the stomach, and you see kids. That's who are hitting you.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
The sad part is what you realize is ... so the kids already at such a young age are being bred into believing this is the way of life. The situation has grown particularly difficult in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron, where a Jewish settlement lies across the street from the last Muslim home in the area. Notice the caged house. The Abu 'Ayesha family lives caged in their own home to protect themselves from the frequent harassment from the settlers across the street. We were fortunate enough to be invited in for tea, to hear the Abu 'Ayesha story, and about the program developed by B'Tselem to help the situation.
MAN
God and our beloved prophet Muhammad taught us to accommodate our neighbors. He did not ask the neighbor if they were Muslim or Jewish or Christian. He made room for his neighbors and helped them. We are supposed to help the neighbors and generally take care of them. I have grapes, peaches, and cucumbers in my orchards and I used to bring them home and would always share some with them. With these settlers, other Jews would refuse to live with them. They would refuse. An official once asked me: "If there is peace, would you live with the settlers?" And I told him that not even other Jews would live with these settlers.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
Tell me, how did you come up with this program, "Shooting Back"?
OREN YAKOBOVICH
At B'Tselem, a vision, or the idea that we are trying to create, we're trying to bring stories from the West Bank, from human rights violations to the media. To evoke for the improvement of human rights. And one day me and Karim were driving here, and Karim told me, this family here, they've got to have a camera, because they are getting so much hassle here. Because they're just, you know, a few meters from the settlement and they're getting so much problems, and stones been thrown on them, and they cannot walk in the streets. They had no proof. They had no proof. They know I have to prove it because everybody's saying, "No, no, no, it's not possible, it's not happening," and nobody saw it. And then we gave a camera to the family here, taught them how to film with the camera -- a very simple digital camera, it's not that expensive anymore. You know, you can give them away, you don't have to be a professional, you're getting a good shot. We gave the children the camera and I told them, "Just shoot your life. Just shoot what's happening with you," you know? And then once in a while we come here and we see what they're shooting, and we get a massive footage, documenting what's happening with them. One of the famous ones was a clip, a one-minute clip, a girl from the family, she's 16, was filming, when settlers from here tried to lock her in the room here.
WOMAN
Close the door.
VOICE
Stay out of this!
OREN YAKOBOVICH
She's come here and tried to close the door, and they're shouting at her that she's a whore, she's a whore.
WOMAN
Whore! Whore!
OREN YAKOBOVICH
And I got back this footage by mistake. I came a few days after because of something else, I got the footage, I saw it, and sometimes the family even don't realize how extreme their life is. People who are living at these checkpoints near the wall, near ... in refugee camps, they're suffering from the invasion of the army on a daily basis, not realizing how difficult their life is. And people never saw how they're living, because usually when the filming crew comes, or when the news channels will come, it will never be the same. Things will change. Everybody will act and behave differently. And with the camera, when they have the camera, and they have their own life and they can document ... we have footage at night where soldiers are shouting and singing to them from here, we have footage of stones being thrown at the family, cursing at the family. It's something that only the family can feel.
MAN
And it's very interesting to know that since we bring the cameras to the family, the violence of the neighbors, the settlers, became down.
OREN YAKOBOVICH
Reduced. Went down.
MAN
Because they are afraid from these cameras and the things which they produce, the children of the family.
CHARLES ANNENBERG WEINGARTEN
Well, yeah, I mean, if you think about it, you know, children are innocent. That's what's so sad about this whole thing, actually. It's like sweet kids right here. It's unbelievable. And they'll be fueled with hatred, in no time. But when you hand a child a camera, he's not going to try to manipulate anyone. It's just, like you said, he's just playing, and showing his life. I mean, there's no angle. I'm not trying to say anything's right or wrong, it's just what is. And so, wow, so you've been using a video camera, basically, as a first line of defense.
OREN YAKOBOVICH
Exactly. We called this project Shooting Back, because there is only weapons. The Palestinians can fight, and in the end, I think, we'll achieve something.
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explore.org
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With the support of the Annenberg Foundation, explore has made funding possible to: B'Tselem. For more information: www.btselem.org