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JERUSALEM: Israeli High Court postpones ruling on al-Rajabi Building, sends Firing Zone 918 for mediation

On 2 September 2013, Israel’s High Court of Justice heard arguments on two cases that could significantly change the character of the West Bank , in particular the Old City of Hebron and the South Hebron Hills villages of  Majaez, Taban, Isfay, Fakhit, Hallawa, Al Mirkaz, Jinba and Kharuba.  In the case of the al-Rajabi Building in Hebron, it postponed its ruling, and it submitted the case of the villages in the area that the Israeli military has designated as Firing Zone 918 for mediation.

Although the two court cases are distinct, they both represent all too common Israeli violations of international law that evict Palestinians from their homes and carve out portions of the West Bank to make room for the expansion of Israeli settlements onto Palestinian lands.

Map of "Firing Zone 918," courtesy of B'Tselem 

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Solidarity demonstration held at al-Rajabi building

Yesterday CPT attended a demonstration in solidarity with the families from the Wadi al-Hussein area of Hebron, where the al-Rajabi house is located.

Demonstrators shouted in Arabic, “No to settlements!” highlighting the possible future of the Al Rajabi building.

Today, (Monday, 2 September) the Israeli High Court in Jerusalem will decide to whom the al-Rajabi building belongs: the al-Rajabi family or the settlers.

The demonstration occurred with no violence, despite the fact that settlers, who appeared tense and uncomfortable with the number of Palestinians in attendance, were present. Settlers stood along side the Israeli military, taking pictures and filming the demonstrators. After around thirty minutes, a large contingent of Israeli soldiers broke up the demonstration

Palestinians are worried that violence will occur if the settlers take over the building and the area becomes a closed military zone. If Palestinians win the building back, locals are still concerned that there will be a “price tagging” campaign (settlers taking revenge by attacking Palestinians and their property) in the area.

“We are appealing to the international community, diplomats and consulates to put pressure on the Israeli government to stop the [Al Rajabi] decision,” said the Governor of Hebron.

The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee (HRC) organised the demonstration, attended by Youth Against Settlement (YAS) and the Hebron Defence Committee (HDC).  Organisations attending alongside CPT were the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) and the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme for Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

Click here for information on the al-Rajabi building.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli military order CPT and EAPPI to leave Ibrahimi Mosque vicinity


 Palestinians Praying at Ibrahimi mosque
while CPTers monitor
 photo by Tammie Danielsen, former EA

On Friday the 30 August, Israeli border police aggressively ordered CPT’s Hebron team and their partner organisation EAPPI (Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel) to leave the area of the Ibrahim mosque.

In recent months, Israeli forces have repeatedly ordered both CPT and EAPPI have to remove anything that identifies them as working for an international organisation, within a small strip of road adjacent to the Ibrahim Mosque.  Although this edict is an apparent order from commanding officers, CPTers on the ground have not seen it in writing despite having asked many times.  Border Police (link) have enforced the order randomly depending on the individual Border guard and who the commanding officers are at the time.

On Friday, the Israeli forces took a new and more aggressive stance, ordering CPT and EAPPI to completely leave the vicinity of the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpelah whilst the two groups were conducting their weekly monitoring of soldiers and settlers present as Palestinian Muslims attend Friday prayers.

Israeli Border guards confronted CPT and EAPPI about twenty minutes after they arrived at the mosque.  One of them barked, "You will leave!  Either you go on your own, or we will force you!"

Prayers for Peacemakers, 28 August 2013

Epixel* for 1 September 2013

Striking Colombian Farmers protesting
Free Trade Agreement
l. Firing Zone 918, r. Rajabi Building

The Lord overthrows the thrones of
rulers, and enthrones the lowly in their place

The Lord plucks up the roots of the
nations, and plants the humble
in their place.
Sirach 10:14-15

*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches
related to and appearing with a text from the
upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary

Prayers for Peacemakers, 28 August 2013

Pray that the Israeli High Court will render just decisions on 2 September 2013 when it decides whether the Israeli military can evict hundreds of families from their homes in the South Hebron Hills, and whether settlers can take over the Rajabi building in Hebron.

Related Story: PALESTINE URGENT ACTION: 2 Campaigns, 2 Petitions, 2 September 2013

Pray also for the nation of Colombia as a strike by small farmers, miners, the indigenous, truckers, teachers, and healthcare workers demanding the rights guaranteed them under the Colombian constitution enters its second week.

Related Story: COLOMBIA: National Strike participants seek recognition as full citizens

PALESTINE URGENT ACTION: 2 Campaigns, 2 Petitions, 2 September 2013

 Two of CPT Palestine's biggest campaigns have their day in court on 2 September.      

Last October, CPT Palestine, with direction from our partners, became involved with two developing situations.  One was connected to the al-Rajabi building, which lies between the settlement of Kiryat Arba and Hebron’s Old City and which settlers were trying to take over.  The other was the eviction of 1000 people in the Masafer Yatta area, which Israel designated as Firing Zone 918.  Both of these situations will come to their critical moments in Israeli courts on 2 September 2013.

We are asking our constituents to help with both of these issues, if they have not done so already:

In the case of Firing Zone 918, CPT has started a petition, in coordination with the Israeli peace activists, endeavoring to pressure the Israeli courts.  CPT's petition is aimed at USA policy makers, and will be delivered to Secretary of State John Kerry.

In the case of the Rajabi building CPT is promoting the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee’s petition.

Please click on the links to get more information and to sign the petitions.  Help prevent Israel from forcing more Palestinians from their homes, and diminishing prospects of peace and justice.      

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: A better than usual Friday (8 August 2013)

 Palestine CPTer in uniform

[Note: The following story has been edited for length.  The entire reflection may be found in the new CPT Palestine newsletter.]

Fridays have been difficult for CPT recently.  While the soldiers have been relatively benign toward the Palestinians on Fridays (which we are thrilled about), they have not been so lax with us.  Fridays have mostly consisted of us going on Mosque patrol, getting yelled at by soldiers, and leaving under fear of arrest.  A few weeks ago, soldiers told us we couldn’t be in the area with our hats and vest.  Then they told us we weren’t allowed in the area at all.  Last Friday, a soldier told us we were not allowed there.  Then he asked us why we don’t go to Syria, if I think I’m a wise guy, why we insisted on blabbing instead of leaving, if we read our Bible, why we asked so many questions when the command was “obvious,” and finally if we would like him to bring out some more soldiers to force us out.

Every Friday evening we do what we call the “prayers’ road patrol”  along the road that connects  the settlement of Kiryat Arba with the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpelah.  Since Palestinians live along the road, Israeli soldiers are always stationed there on Friday evenings to protect settlers.  Sometimes Palestinians are denied access to the road or are attacked by settlers.

We must pass in front of the Ibrahimi Mosque (Cave of Machpelah), where soldiers have told us we cannot be, to walk on the road.  One soldier greeted us as we walked by and asked about our organization on our way back.  When I talked about what CPT stood for, he nodded in agreement.  As the conversation turned to the settlements he said, “Yeah, the settlements are a big problem.  I hope you all continue doing good work; good luck.”  We stumbled away, half in shock.

Prayers for Peacemakers, 7 August 2013

 Epixel* for 11 August 2013
 I cannot endure solemn assemblies
with iniquity…
Wash yourselves;
make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your doings
from before my eyes
Isaiah 1:13b, 16a

Prayers for Peacemakers, 7 August 2013

Ask that God support the people of Hebron, who were unable to celebrate fully one of their most important holidays, Laylat-al-Qadr, this year at the Ibrahimi Mosque, even though it is one of the holidays for which the Israeli military guarantees them access to the mosque. 

Related story:AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Unequal equality at Il Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpelah

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Unequal equality at Il Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpelah


 Palestinians waiting to go through mosque checkpoint

According Israeli civil administration policy, Jews and Muslims may use the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpelah exclusively on their holiest days; on paper, the Israeli authorities allot each group an equal number of these days.  But the realities on the ground show the severe inequality of this policy’s implementation.

August 4 was Laylat-al-Qadr, the holiest night of the year for Muslims—the night God revealed the Qur’an to Muhammad.  Muslims believe prayers are most potent and that God forgives all sins that night.  Laylat-al-Qadr used to be the busiest time of the year for the Ibrahimi Mosque.  Thousands of Palestinians came to the tomb to pray throughout the night.  In accordance with Israel's policy, the whole mosque (divided when settler Baruch Goldstein massacred Muslim worshippers in February 1994) is open to Muslims only for twenty-four hours.

This year, the mosque was open for only part of the night, until 3:00 a.m.  Although Muslims had full access inside the Mosque at night, they still did not have access to the park or road in front of the Mosque.  The military took every measure to ensure that the Muslim holiday would not disturb settler life.

SOUTH HEBRON HILLS URGENT ACTION: Ask U.S. Secretary of State Kerry to heed Israeli jurists' and writers' petitions against forced evacuation of people in Firing Zone 918

Map of "Firing Zone 918," courtesy of B'Tselem

On 2 September 2013, the Israeli High Court will rule on whether more than 1,000 Palestinians, including 452 children may remain on land in the South Hebron Hills where their families have lived for many generations.  The Israeli military wants to force the villagers off their land so they can use the land for live fire training,  which is in absolute contravention of international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49, and the Hague Regulations, Articles 46 and 52.

Christian Peacemaker Teams has had a relationship with villagers in this area since the late 1990s, including a seven year period when it had a team in the village of At-Tuwani.  It is asking its constituents to express their support for petitions sponsored by prominent Israeli writers and legal advocates-- available on CPT’s Palestine team’s website--who are speaking out on behalf of the residents of the region. 

The petition CPT is asking its consituents to sign adjures U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is trying to foster new peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, to demand that the Israeli military cease its ongoing live fire training in the South Hebron Hills  and stop trying to expel the more than 1,000 Palestinian shepherd families from their villages. 

 To sign the petition and obtain more information, click here.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Ramadan at the checkpoint

We are in the month of Ramadan, the month Muslims fast; devote themselves to charitable giving, peacemaking, and helping those in need.  It is the time of renewing spirituality for each person.  It is the time to practice social solidarity, help the poor, strengthen family ties, and pray for the world.

Gathering at Checkpoint 56
Shuhada Street

In Hebron, Ramadan activities are more challenging.  Cities all over Palestine host public events in the streets.  Such gatherings are not possible in the H-2 area of Hebron due to the overwhelming Israeli military presence.  But on the 19th of Ramadan, a group of activists in Hebron organized an activity in front of Checkpoint 56 (the checkpoint closing off Shuhada Street).

The activities included music celebrating Ramadan and speeches from the organizers.  According to the organizers, the activity was about resisting the occupation nonviolently.  They resisted by practicing spirituality at the checkpoint, by remembering the prisoners and their families, and by reminding the world that justice will prevail.

During the event, soldiers came out and asked the crowd to move, but did not stay, and the crowd continued to grow and celebrate.  About a hundred men, women and children participated in the event, enjoying the music.  Even the Hebron District Governor appeared for the occasion to show the residents of the area the importance of their resistance, and to thank them for their efforts and the sumoud (steadfast perseverance) they are doing to protect the Hebron’s Old City.


For other recent news from CPT Palestine click here.