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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.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli settlers burn Abu Haikel family olive grove for eighth time


On Sunday, 28 July, settlers from Tel Rumeida set fire to Hani Abu Heike’s olive grove.  The Abu Haikel family has lived in the Tel Rumeida neighborhood for generations, and has been under constant attack from nearby settlers since settlers established their presence there in the 1980s.

Members of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron arrived while fire department and internationals were extinguishing the flames with hoses and buckets.  Hani Abu Haikel told team members, “This has become a yearly thing,” elaborating that this act of vandalism marks the eighth time settlers have set his olive grove on fire.  

Abu Haikel said that the fire started from directly under the nearby Israeli military and speculated that the settlers, whom he had seen on his land earlier that day, had spread gasoline or some other flammable substance over the ground.  His evidence for this, besides the unnatural smell of burning chemicals coming from the ashes, was a small patch of ground left unscathed.  Settlers had recently planted a garden on Abu Haikel’s land in another attempt to push the Abu Haikels off their land.  The settler-planted garden, in the middle of the blackened grove was untouched by the flames.

Abu Haikel is planning to file a report with the Israeli police, although he is not optimistic he will receive justice.  If this experience is anything like his last seven, then the police will not follow up on his complaint.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): New book--Letters from Apartheid Street: A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine--now available

In the winter of 2012, Michael McRay interned for two months with the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron and then traveled to Nablus, Ramallah, Qalqilyah, and other locations in the West Bank.  His time in Hebron coincided with the arrival of a particularly brutal battalion of the Golani Brigade and McRay helped put a report together about its abuses that was widely distributed by the United Nations and other international groups

McRay kept an extensive journal about his experiences that became his new book, Letters from Apartheid Street: A Christian Peacemaker in Occupied Palestine.  Several of the reflections in the book first appeared on CPTnet.  In “Welcoming the Enemy,” he writes of the first time he monitored soldiers with automatic weapons while they swept through Hebron’s Old City, detaining men and checking their IDs:

As they approached the end of the Old City, one of the soldiers in the back turned and quickly pointed the barrel of his weapon into an elderly man’s shop.  The storeowner sat out in front, his head just beneath the level of the gun’s barrel.  He simply looked up at the soldiers passing his shop, bowed his head, lifted up his hand, palm upwards, and said, “Ahlan wasahlan (you are most welcome).”  His response so caught me off guard I laughed out loud.  Here was an Israeli soldier, a member of the military occupying this Palestinian man’s land, who walked the streets of Hebron to protect the Jewish settlers who were illegally taking more and more land from this man and his people.  In short, there walked his enemy.

 McRay is donating 20% the profits of Letters from Apartheid Street to Christian Peacemaker Teams.  It is available from Amazon and Wipf&Stock.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) URGENT ACTION: Help replace volunteers to whom Israel denied entry last week

On two occasions in the past week, Israeli officials at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport refused entry to members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) who had traveled to Israel to join the Christian Peacemaker Team in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

On Tuesday 2 July, Israeli authorities interrogated a CPT reservist from the Netherlands and held him in the airport for fourteen hours before placing him on a flight home. Three days later they interrogated a CPT reservist from the United States for ten hours before sending him home.  Each CPTer had served in Israel-Palestine before.  Both volunteers cooperated with the intensive questioning of Israeli security officials, who seemed most concerned with visas from the government of Iraqi Kurdistan stamped in both CPTers' passports because of their past CPT work in that region.…

In response to these developments, CPT's team in Palestine wants to initiate a quick "surge" of volunteers traveling through Israel to join its project within the next few weeks.  This surge will help CPT better staff the project and uphold critical commitments both to partners in Hebron and the South Hebron Hills in this interim period of very few team members.  The results of this initiative will also help CPT to ascertain whether the Israeli authorities are targeting it for removal.


Make a contribution today to help CPT fund several volunteers traveling to join its Palestine team in very quick succession.  CPT relies primarily on individual donations to fulfill its travel and operating costs.  Your gift of $20 or more will make a difference.  Write “inspired by the Palestine team” in your check memo. Share this alert with your community.

If you are a CPT reservist and able to come to Israel-Palestine within the next few weeks, please contact us.  A scholarship may be available to reduce your fundraising obligations.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli soldiers render 98-year-old woman unconscious with tear gas


30Junewoman rendered unconsciousOn Sunday 30 June 2014, Soldiers in the occupied Old City (Hebron H2)  neighbourhood of Abu-Hadid, near 30June teargasgrenadecheckpoint 209, randomly  fired tear gas into a house following the throwing of stones by children in the area.  Rashida Abed-al-Salam Alkarky, ninety-eight years old, was alone in her room at the time when the tear gas canister landed near her door. Family members were unable to get to her room for five minutes because of the teargas and when they were finally able to reach her, found her collapsed on the floor.  Upon the arrival of Christian Peacemaker Team members, Alkarky was with her family in another room and was vomiting from the effects of the tear gas. An ambulance had already arrived at the scene and administered oxygen. Despite having collapsed after inhaling the tear gas, Alkarky refused to go to hospital.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) NEWS: Updates on settler road expansion, situation of South Hebron Hills villagers threatened with expulsion, settler vandalism in Hebron market, and more.


Repeatedly in the past weeks, residents of the Israeli settlement of Beit Hadassah, located within the Hebron Old City, have vandalized merchandise and assaulted their Palestinian neighbors.

From a multi-storey building directly overshadowing one of Hebron's busiest marketplaces, the settlers of Beit Haddasah have long attempted to maintain an atmosphere of fear and unpredictability for surrounding Palestinian merchants and residents.  On 16 June, CPTers visited clothing stores upon which settlers had just thrown plastic bags full of bleach from above.  Shopkeepers reported that this thuggish behavior happens frequently.  Settlers also spray water from hoses down through windows and courtyards of adjacent homes.  Such vandalism damages and destroys merchandise, for which Palestinian family businesses receive no compensation.

For these stories and more, see News from Christian Peacemaker Teams in Palestine.