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HEBRON UPDATE - FEBRUARY 28 - MARCH 10, 2003
Walking back to the CPT apartment, CPTers Kristin Anderson and Chris
Brown heard gunfire, and then saw Palestinians running towards them.
Anderson and Brown approached a nearby Israeli military checkpoint where
they encountered twelve soldiers playing 'war games.' When one pointed
his gun from behind a concrete block his commander yelled, "Don't
shoot!" Later that evening CPTers witnessed tanks, jeeps, and police
moving into a neighbourhood adjacent to the CPT apartment.
One of the team's Arabic translators came to the CPT apartment to assist
the team in planning for an upcoming delegation of North Americans to
Hebron. Regarding the present very difficult situation she commented,
"Somehow we get used to (the months and months of curfew.) Even getting
beaten by soldiers seems bad at the time, but (you) can recover from it.
The worst thing is soldiers entering your house and going through
personal things." She explained that twelve families had been forced to
stand outside at night during a heavy rainstorm while soldiers searched
their homes. On a happier note, she said she was pleased to see
soldiers and police throwing snow and playing with Palestinian children.
Saturday, March 1 - Day 107 of curfew
Most mornings, CPTers walk the streets around 9 schools near the CPT
apartment, as a deterrence to soldier and settler violence sometimes
directed at the over 10,000 school children. CPTers on 'school patrol'
had to deal with jumpy soldiers who asked for ID at every checkpoint. A
large new group of very young soldiers had recently arrived in Hebron.
A Palestinian man asked soldiers permission for his wife to go see a
doctor. Soldiers told him that nobody may leave their house in the Abu
Sneineh neighborhood, near the CPT apartment. CPTer Sue Rhodes
intervened and the soldiers said that maybe the woman could go later in
CPTers Art Arbour and Bob Holmes traveled to the South Hebron Hills, 10
km south of the city. They met with Palestinian farmers and other human
rights organizations concerning ongoing attacks by Israeli settlers
against the Palestinian farmers. Members of Ta'yush (a joint
Palestinian-Israeli anti-occupation organization), the International
Solidarity Movement, a French human rights organization and CPT, all
agreed to participate in a rotation of human rights accompaniment for
the farmers as needed.
Sunday, March 2 - Day 108 of curfew
A delegation of nine people from Canada and United States arrived in
Hebron to join the CPT team for one week. They came from several church
denominations, and included two people retired from the U.S. military.
During the delegation's opening time of prayer, six soldiers entered the
CPT apartment to investigate the new group of foreigners. CPTers Anne
Montgomery and Holmes told the soldiers that CPT would not comply with
the military's curfew, so the commander called the police. When the
police arrived, the CPTers agreed to inform the soldier on the rooftop
across from the apartment when people were leaving the apartment.
Tuesday, March 4 - Day 110 of curfew
On his way home, Brown was stopped at a checkpoint adjacent to an
Israeli settlement called Beit Romano, a short distance from the CPT
apartment. He was told he could not go into the Old City. When he told
the soldiers he lives there, they replied, "That's not our problem."
Brown took a detour away from the soldiers.
Montgomery left for Bethlehem to help facilitate a non-violence workshop
for Palestinian young people there.
Wednesday, March 5 - Day 111 of curfew
Arbour, Rhodes and Brown went on 'school patrol.' Soldiers were not
stopping children from attending school today.
CPTers Dianne Roe, Kristin Anderson and Greg Rollins left for Jenin, a
Palestinian city in the northern part of the West Bank. They planned to
investigate the possibility of establishing a new team there (CPT may
establish an additional team in Occupied Palestine and is considering
Thursday, March 6 - Day 112 of curfew
On the way back from 'school patrol' William Payne encountered six
soldiers using barbed wire to reinforce the fence that blocks the road
next to the apartment door. A soldier told Payne, "We hate doing house
searches in the middle of the night and have children frightened of us.
Children usually love me!" Another said he agreed with the CPT analysis
that violence is only causing more violence, but did not see a way out.
The second soldier asked Payne, "What is the solution? Should we be
right or should we be smart?"
Friday, March 7 - Day 113 of curfew
Rhodes reported that shopkeepers in H1 (the part of Hebron legally under
Palestinian authority according to the Oslo Accords) were angry because
four soldiers forced them to close at 9:30 a.m.
In a related incident, a shopkeeper from an Old City location near the
CPT apartment reported that he had been unsuccessful in getting the
Israeli military to open his shop so he could remove his merchandise. A
week ago, the CPT team had learned that Israeli soldiers had welded shut
twenty shops adjacent to an Israeli settlement. CPT had met with David
Glass, an officer with the Israeli military who had said that the shops
were welded shut to protect the shop owners' merchandise, and that it
would be no problem to arrange for the removal of the merchandise.
Walking back to the CPT apartment in the early evening, Arbour and Payne
heard gunfire. The team learned later that two Palestinians killed two
settlers and injured eight others at the Kiriat Arba settlement located
on the edge of Hebron, about 1.5 km from the CPT apartment. The armed
wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for the killings. The two
Palestinians were also killed in the exchange of gunfire.
Roe, Anderson and Rollins reported that Israeli soldiers were preventing
all entry into the Jenin district, where the CPTers were headed.
Soldiers said they might permit CPTers entry in three days. The CPTers
decided to return to Hebron and reschedule the exploratory trip. Over
the past year, the Israeli military has imposed a strict curfew on
Jenin, a city of 200,000 people.
Saturday, March 8 - Day 114 of curfew
On the way to school patrol Brown and Payne encountered four soldiers
who positioned themselves at a crucial intersection and prevented
children from passing through to school. Dozens of children made several
attempts at walking through the area. Brown and Payne witnessed a
soldier grab a very small child and shout at him. The CPTers asked the
soldier not to yell at small children.
As the CPTers passed Israeli settlers on route to the synagogue located
at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, Brown and Payne expressed
their condolences for the deaths of settlers the previous night. The
settlers nodded in response.
Sunday, March 9 - Day 115 of curfew
During school patrol a teacher informed Arbour and Payne that Israeli
soldiers had demolished a house near Hebron University, in retaliation
for the killings of settlers two days earlier. It was the home of the
family of one of the deceased Palestinians who killed the settlers.
The team's translator called to say that settlers were bulldozing on the
perimeter of Kiriat Arba, and that a Palestinian family was worried that
their house was in danger of being demolished. Payne, Rhodes, and Brown
went to investigate. Two Caterpillar bulldozers were clearing a section
of land adjacent to Kiryat Arba on the southeast side. As Payne began
filming the destruction, an angry settler threatened to shoot at him.
The Palestinian family lost over five dunams (1/4 acre) of land with six
hundred trees, including almonds, olives, and grapevines. The settlers
had also destroyed a building used for farm animals. A settler told
Payne that he would like to demolish the Palestinian homes but did not
have permission yet from the Israeli government. Another settler threw
rocks at Payne and members of the Temporary International Presence in
Hebron (TIPH), and also tried to push the TIPH observer off a rock
The CPTers learned that soldiers forced one Palestinian family of
seventeen people to stand outside the previous night for two and a half
hours, and then to stay in one room of their own home for another three
and a half hours. CPTers asked what the soldiers were doing. "They were
just relaxing in our house."
As the funeral of the murdered settlers was beginning, Rhodes, Brown and
Payne accompanied two Palestinian children through the
settler-controlled area of Hebron. The children were afraid to go home
because Israeli settlers often attack random Palestinians after settlers
have been killed.
In violation of international law, the Israeli Army demolished three
Palestinian homes in Hebron in retaliation for three recent attacks
against Israeli civilians.
Monday, March 10 - Day 116 of curfew
Rhodes, Arbour, and Brown went out on school patrol. A tank stationed
itself to prevent students from passing. Other soldiers stationed by
the Ibrahimiyye School ordered the headmaster to dismiss his students
and close the school. When Rhodes was trying to get children past the
tank a soldier commented, "I guess you are just doing your job." Rhodes
replied, "Well I guess you are just doing your job too, but who is doing
the more sensible job?"
Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support
violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's
peacemaking work, please visit our website at http://www.cpt.org. Photos
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