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AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): A Week in Photos 8-14 March 2015

Below are some of the the CPT Palestine team's best photos for the week of 8-14 March.  A link to their page, with aids to signing up for their social media is available here.  Be a part of showing the the world the true face of Israel's military occupation of Palestine.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: They seek to live freely, not to die bravely

I heard the bullet slam into the metal door up the street, and turned to look at my teammate with confusion—was that really a bullet? —when several rubber bullets came skipping up the street and stopped near my feet. At that moment, I realized that I would hate telling this story to friends in the United States.

The responses would be predictable‑“You’re crazy!” “You’re so brave!”

We were accompanying the annual Open Shuhada Street demonstration Shuhada Street, once the main market street in the old city of Hebron, is a desolate ghost town since the Israeli military closed it to Palestinians in the late 1990s, as punishment for protesting the massacre of 29 Muslim Palestinians in the Ibrahimi Mosque. Every year, Palestinians and international supporters gather to demand that the Israeli military open the street and allow Palestinians to move freely in the city. Every year, they are met by brutal, violent repression.

As I walked over to pick up the rubber bullet, I looked across the street and saw several young Palestinian men my age, trying to decide if it was worth attempting to march down the street or not. And at that moment, I understood why I would hate telling this story. The truth is, I’m actually scared of a lot of things—bullets, heights, snakes, big spiders, etc. I am very sure that I would not be out protesting if I was a young Palestinian man, growing up with constant military harassment, family arrested and tortured, friends killed, economic strangulation. I felt safer on that street because of my CPT hat and my international passport.

We can always find someone braver than us, someone who is sacrificing more. And often people do not sacrifice by choice, and they are brave because their very existence is resistance and there is no third option between resistance and death. Those of us who do not face this choice can find ourselves seeking moments of bravery, opportunities to prove our toughness by facing down the forces of violence‑the white/male/middle-class/USAmerican Savior Complex.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus is asked to come heal Lazarus. This would mean traveling to Judea, where the political leaders want Jesus dead. He holds off for a bit, but when he decides to go, Thomas says, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

Thomas wants to be brave. He identifies the movement Jesus is building as about bravely facing death (unlike Peter, who at other points thinks that Jesus is an idiot for saying he will die, cf. Matthew 16). Thomas sees Jesus’ death as the central focus. Thomas would do well in a conservative evangelical church.

But this is not the story in John 11. Jesus does head down to Judea, and Lazarus has been dead for four days. If the point is a brave death, Jesus could have just sat down and waited for the political leadership to show up and kill him. Instead, he weeps with his friends in the death of their friend, he goes with them to the tomb, he asks for the stone to be rolled away, he prays, and Lazarus is raised from death. And then Jesus says this: “Unbind him, and let him go.”  Jesus frees Lazarus from the power of death.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: Walking the broken path

The border police argued with my teammate about permission to walk the paved “settler path.”  Sound bombs and tear gas were exploding at Salaymeh, a checkpoint nearby. According to the soldiers, we could walk on the same path that the settlers could, but the boys and girls with us could only walk on the adjacent rocky path.

Palestinian children walking with CPTer
on unpaved side of road, while settler
walks on paved side

Border police uttered Hebrew words through his radio. My teammate engaged the soldier. The children looked afraid. I pulled out notebook and pen, got down on my knees, and started drawing.

“Pintemos un payaso,” I told them, knowing the children would not understand. First the head, then the nose, eyes, ears, hair. I drew a clown.

One of the girls smiled timidly and told me something in Arabic.

“No te entiendo, pero pintemos otro payaso,” “I don’t understand, but let’s draw another clown.”

I started again: head, nose, eyes, ears, hair. My drawings amused the girls. They giggled. The boys pretended not to be interested, but peeked discreetly so they could still see my art.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): CPTers arrested while accompanying Palestinian kindergarteners in Hebron

On Sunday Israeli Border Police arrested two CPT members while they were walking Palestinian children from kindergarten just after noon. The CPTers were taken to the police station near the Ibrahimi Mosque, then moved to a police station in the Givat Ha'avot settlement, and finally released at 5:20 p.m. Israeli police did not press formal charges.

For several weeks, members of CPT Palestine have  accompanied children from the Al Saraya Kindergarten, who face harassment from Israeli Border Police, Israeli soldiers, and settlers during their walk to and from school every day. Part of their walk to school is on a road that the Israeli military has declared partially off-limits to Palestinians, including young children. Since CPT began accompanying the kindergarten students, border police have stopped the children several times and told them that they may not walk on the street for security reasons, but have allowed them to pass on other occasions.


It is not clear if these recent provocations are a part of a larger ramping up of the occupation of the West Bank. Its not clear what will happen in the upcoming days, either for CPT or for the children of the Al Saraya Kindergarten. Please pray for everyone in the Old City of Hebron who is affected by this continual and increasing violence. 

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Palestine team begins accompaniment of kindergarteners near Ibrahimi Mosque

The Red Crescent Kindergarten School is fully equipped for the four-year-old children who will begin their education: carpeted floors, multiple roomsfor playing and learning, as well as all the supplies needed to teach and entertain children. Most importantly, the school has caring teachers dedicated to their young pupils.

In 2000, the kindergarten had ten teachers and ninety students, but now only has three teachers and fifteen students. The school is in a particularly vulnerable location: immediately adjacent to the Ibrahimi Mosque and the Tomb of the Patriarchs, which is surrounded by Israeli Border Police. Due to constant soldier and settler harassment, parents in the nearby neighbourhoods are hesitant to send their children to the school. In response to this harassment and the effect it has had on the school children, the principal of the Red Crescent Kindergarten asked CPT to begin escorting the children to and from school.

One form of structural violence that the four-year-olds must face on their way to school is a divided path by the Ibrahimi Mosque. On one side of a tall fence is a wide, paved path for Israeli settlers, and on the other is a narrow, rocky path for Palestinians.  Israeli Border Police have recently begun to deny these kindergarten students the right to walk on the “settler path.”

Prayers for Peacemakers, 25 February 2015

Prayers for Peacemakers, 25 February 2015

Pray for the people of Hebron.  25 February 2014 marks the twenty-first anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when a U.S.-born Israeli settler murdered twenty-nine Muslim men and boys while they prayed there. The Israeli military killed and injured dozens more Palestinians in the demonstrations that followed, imposed a strict 100-day curfew, and, among many more punitive responses on the Palestinian population of Hebron began a process that led to illegally restricting them from accessing Shuhada Street.  This week, there will be several nonviolent demonstrations protesting the closing of Shuhada Street. Pray for the safety of demonstrators, as Israeli soldiers will likely respond with tear gas, sound bombs, and violent arrests. Pray for the safety of all people in the Old City, as Israeli military oppression brings collective punishment to shop owners, families, and young children. Pray for the CPT Hebron Team who will be in the demonstrations.

 *Epixel for Sunday, March 1, 2015
 For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted; he did not hide his face from me, but heard
when I cried to him. Psalm 22:24
 *epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's  Revised Common Lectionary  readings.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): First of Open Shuhada Street actions kicks off on 20 February 2015


Despite the heavy snow and the cold weather, Palestinians of Hebron gathered on Friday 20 February to remember those killed in the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre and demand the opening of Shuhada Street.

On 25 February 1994, Baruch Goldstein, a US-born Israeli settler, walked into the Ibrahimi Mosque and murdered 29 men while they prayed.  Israeli forces killed an additional 29 Palestinians during demonstrations, and subsequently restricted Palestinian access to Shuhada Street, a major market street in the Old City.  Shuhada Street has been permanently closed to Palestinians since 2006.  Palestinians in Hebron live with the effects of these actions every day.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): They uproot a tree…we plant ten

On 3 February 2015, community members planted ninety olive trees next to the Qurtuba School in the Tel Rumeida neighbourhood of Al-Khalil (Hebron), located between Israeli settlements. The Palestinian Association for Voluntary Work planned the action, also involving the Hebron Defense Committee, Hebron Rehabilitation Committee, the Ibrahimi Khalil Society and Administration of Youth. Students from at least two universities were there, including the Al-Quds Open University in Hebron and the American School of Palestine in Ramallah. Participants wore T-shirts emblazoned with the slogan for the action, “they uproot a tree… we plant ten.”

This plot of land formerly belonged to a local family, who transferred it to the school after settlers uprooted the trees that used to grow there, six years ago and three years ago. Local residents are aware that settlers will attempt to undo the work of the planting. However, the action demonstrates the determination of the community to remain in their homes and neighbourhood. A community leader said, ‘We are staying here, and the settlers must move.’

Palestine: Occupation Captured

CPT Palestine has published a photo essay with ten images juxtaposing absurdity, sanity, obscenity, and serenity in Occupation.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli military’s use of teargas, rubber-coated bullets forces schools to close

Over the course of two days last week, the Israeli military’s response to a few boys throwing stones toward the Qitoun/209 and Salimeh/29 checkpoints was so excessive the principals of the seven schools near those checkpoints canceled school for the hundreds of children that attend those institutions. On 10 December at checkpoint 209, through which 183 children and fifty-two adults passed from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m., the teargas was so potent from two teargas canisters fired by Israeli border police that a twelve-year-old boy who opened a window at the school andinhaled the teargas—fired approximately 250m away—suffered extremely adverse effects.  Teachers called an ambulance and decided to close the school to avoid more harm to children from the gas.  An ambulance came after approximately twenty-five minutes, delayed by the physical obstacles of occupation such as checkpoints and the apartheid laws governing Palestinian vehicular access in H2 Hebron.  A CPTer who was there said, “sitting with and attempting to soothe the boy, who was scared, unable to breathe properly, and unable to open his eyes, broke my heart.”