[Hebron is a West Bank Palestinian city of constant conflicts between a small Jewish settlement located in its midst which divides the Palestinian community into unequal halves:


Tensions abide there daily. The Christian Peacemaker Teams do what they can to moderate these with periodic reports such as that following this excerpt from the Wiki report:

“In 1994, an Israeli Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, opened fire on Muslims at prayer in the Ibrahimi Mosque, killing 29. This event was condemned by the Israeli Government and polled Israelis. Israel banned the right-wing Kach movement as a result . . . . A year later, the Mayor of Hebron invited the Christian Peacemaker Teams to assist them [with] the local Palestinian community in opposition to what they describe as Israeli military occupation, collective punishment, settler harassment, home demolitions and land confiscation. They have maintained a presence in the community despite attacks against them, the most noted being in 2004 when two corps members, Kimberly Lamberty and Christopher Brown were attacked while walking Palestinian Children to school. Accounts of the CPT presence can be found in Art Gish’s “Hebron Journal.” Ed Kent]


HEBRON UPDATE: 12 March to 17 March 2007

On team during this period: Art Arbour, Janet Benvie, Ilse Muehlsteph, Abigail Ozanne, Kathie Uhler, and Mary Wendeln.

Monday 12 March

Art Arbour and Janet Benvie went to an action held by The Palestinian Popular Committee at the Duboyya street checkpoint calling for the opening of Shuhada Street.

In the mid afternoon, Israeli settler children throwing stones from the cemetery, across Shuhada Street, over the concrete barrier and fence outside the CPT apartment prevented Arbour from entering onto the street. He also witnessed a bearded adult male come between the blocks to throw stones at Palestinian children. Benvie and Ilse Muehlsteph from the roof observed settler children leaving the area below the apartment and running up Shuhada Street, and then saw Israeli soldiers coming into the street from the Old City. The soldiers detained a young 14-year-old Palestinian boy and took him to the Beit Romano checkpoint, where Israeli police away in a jeep.

A relative of the detained boy asked CPT if they would go with him to the police station, so Arbour and Muehlsteph accompanied the older brother of the detained boy to the Kiryat Arba police station. Police would not communicate with them for some time while they waited at the gate. Finally a soldier appeared and a short time later the boy was released. Four hours had passed, but the detained boy reported that these soldiers had given him a meal and treated him well. “Some soldiers are bad but these were good ones,” he said.

Tuesday 13 March

Morning school patrol at Yatta Road was uneventful. The soldier opening the door at the checkpoint searched the bags of many of the women teachers that went through. He did not search most of the children. The headmistress of the Al Fayha’a Girls’ School asked Muehlsteph and Kathie Uhler to photograph (suspected) settler vandalism to the school rear gate. The vandals had tried to break the gate lock at the back wall leading into the schoolyard. They did not cause any other damage. The headmistress showed the CPTers how, in the past, vandals have cut the chain link fencing above the wall and how she has tried to have these holes fixed.

Abigail Ozanne and Uhler went on afternoon patrol. The CPTers circled around by Yatta Road checkpoint and then walked up Shuhada Street. As they approached Beit Hadassah settlement, they saw three settler children gather stones. The children advanced, throwing stones almost as big as a fist. None of the stones hit. Ozanne and Uhler retreated. The children only stopped chasing them and throwing stones when the group came even with the military base and in sight of a soldier.

Wednesday 14 March

As Muehlsteph and Mary Wendeln – newly arrived on team – walked to the CPT apartment, they noticed soldiers with guns stalking the streets and peering into open areas. The soldiers asked Muehlsteph and Wendeln if they lived in the apartment. They also questioned two Palestinian boys as they removed kerosene containers from the CPT apartment for refills.

Ozanne went out mid-afternoon to get supplies for supper. As she was leaving, she saw a patrol leaving the Old City. When she returned, the squad was at Beit Romano checkpoint. Two of the soldiers had mountable machine guns, as opposed to the m-16 assault rifles they usually carry.

Because there were many soldiers in the market, the team surmised that new soldiers were being trained. Benvie and Muehlsteph went to the Ibrahimi Mosque checkpoint on patrol. The CPTers met a settler who asked them what they were doing for Jewish human rights in Hebron. He told them that they did not care about Jewish blood being spilt, only about Arab blood.

Thursday 15 March

Due to the weather, two reporters for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation arrived in Hebron five-and-a-half hours after they left Jerusalem. They interviewed Arbour for a radio documentary as he guided them through the Old City.

Friday 16 March

Benvie and Ozanne went with a translator in the afternoon to visit families in Wadi al-Ghroos and discuss possible non-violent actions to address the problem. They asked the families what they saw as the worst problem and how CPT could help with this problem. They also presented some ideas the team had brainstormed. At the first home the CPTers visited, the father said he believes that the Israelis will not give up Hebron and that they will try to connect Kiryat Arba and Harsina.

The eldest daughter described how she went through the hills to school because the soldiers block the road. She said that the soldiers harass the women and girls. Sometimes they pull down their pants in front of the females or show them sexual pictures. Sometimes the soldiers will not allow the children to pass until they go to the store for the soldiers.

Benvie, Ozanne and the translator visited another family. They said they believe the main problem is the closure of the road to ambulances and other vehicles since 2001. It is hard for people to get to the hospital over rough ground. It is also difficult to bring in shopping because of the road closure. They talked about how there is no way to get the garbage out of the valley and they live near to the garbage dump, which has caused much disease.

At the home of a third family, the family talked about the lack of medical services. The patriarch repeated the problem of medical services because the road is closed. The family said the road is a serious problem. Once a child in the family was very sick so the father had to carry him out of the valley on foot. The father pointed out that the military has said they have never had problems with the people in the valley.

Saturday 17 March

In the afternoon, Ozanne and Wendeln went to a house previously owned by a Palestinian family and now rented by Isso Amro and discovered that a settler was praying in the yard. Ozanne called Amro, who asked her to take pictures and told her he would call the police to report the trespassing. Ozanne took several pictures while the settler tried to hide her face. Once the settler realized Ozanne was no longer taking pictures, the woman came out from behind a tree and threw a stone at Ozanne and yelled at her, “I will kill you!”

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT’s peacemaking work, visit our website www.cpt.org

“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 718-951-5324 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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