My 12-year old daughter went with her class, a group of Jewish schoolgirls, to celebrate the bat mitvah (turning age 12) of a classmate at the Tomb of Rachel. The Tomb of Rachel is the 3rd holiest site in Judaism.
While the Tomb of Rachel was located “on the road to Bethlehem”, expansion of the town of Bethlehem over the last 20 years put the Tomb of Rachel just inside a neighborhood at the town edge.
Due to increasing attacks at this, the 3rd holiest Jewish site and a very popular site for religious pilgrims, Israel isolated the holy site by surrounding an access road and the shrine itself with 50 foot high concrete walls while surrounding the shrine itself with a fortified defensive structure. Having separated access to the site from the hostile Palestinian population (who continue to complain that this destroys convenient access to this neighborhood) as much as is humanly possible, one would think that would be the end of attacks upon the Jewish (and non-Jewish) religious pilgrims visiting the holy site.
During their visit, as they exited the shrine building, being surrounded by the 50 foot concrete barrier walls together with army watch towers, they were suddenly attacked with softball sized rocks flying over the barriers. The lives of this group of 12 year old girls on the line for being struck by a rock that size falling from that height would most likely be deadly, they ran in terror as the Palestinians on the other side of the barrier decided the Jewish festival of Chanukah was an appropriate time to attempt to murder Jewish religious pilgrims – especially 12 year old girls.
The Israeli security forces at the holy site took quick action, pushing the religious pilgrims back into the fortified shrine and those near their transportation back into their hardened buses. They then opened access points in the security barrier to stop the attempted slaughter via riot control armaments (tear gas and rubber bullets) – for although rocks have a history of killing or maiming, they don’t warrant a deadly response from the Israeli army or police as it would be considered “disproportionate” by the world media and United Nations.
None of the girls was struck by the incoming deadly-sized rocks and all successfully reached their transportation. No physical injuries were sustained. However, the emotional impact of running for their lives during the holy festival of Chanukah at the 3rd holiest site of Judaism cannot be understated.
Such actions by the Palestinians might bring one to believe they don’t want peace with Israel.