Palestine

Applies to CPTnet releases from Palestine projects

Al-Khalil Reflection: Remember your childhood

Remember if you can your childhood.

Remember being a child during the holidays.

Remember the feeling of being free of school for a week.

Remember the feeling of anticipation; the presents, the food, your favourite aunt or uncle.

Remember the decorations, the days of preparations.

Remember the meal, the family together around a single table.

Remember the presents, the sweets, your favourite dish.

Remember the weather, the songs sung, the music played, the family games.

Palestine: CPT Palestine plans new direction for its work

 

CPT’s Palestine team will stay in Hebron, a microcosm of the Israeli military occupation of Palestine, and make human rights promotion a focus of its work, but plans to expand its work into new peacebuilding enterprises over the next three years.

Most full-time Palestine CPTers and several reservists gathered for a five-day working retreat in Bethlehem from 9-15 October 2013 (Israeli authorities denied Jonathan Brenneman entry into the country three times on September 17, 24 and October 9, so he was not present).  Under the guidance of professional facilitator Gerry O’Sullivan, they produced a three-year strategic plan, in effect through the year 2016.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Entery Denied: Part II*

I made a second attempt to cross the border. Spoiler alert, I didn’t make it. 

I have been volunteering with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Palestine for one year. Due to visa restrictions all volunteers have to come into the country under a tourist visa, and leave every three months to renew our visas. Last week I was returning across the Allenby Border Crossing for my fourth stint. I was questioned extensively about myself, my family, my plans for my visit, and the work of CPT. After 7 hours of questioning and waiting I was told I was denied entry. I asked the reason for my denial. They did not give a clear answer, but did suggest that part of the reason involved not having sufficient evidence to support back my story. The soldier suggested I return later with a letter from CPT, evidence of where I was going to stay, and added that I should get a letter from the Israeli embassy. I took his advice, but the Israeli embassy was closed for over a week. So I returned to the border with a letter from CPT stating our work, my position, and my purpose for entering the country. I also printed out two letters from Israeli friends ‘inviting’ me. 

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 25, 2013

Epixel* for 29 September 2013 
Gal KobiQitoun Checkpoint
The LORD opens the eyes of
the blind.
The LORD lifts up
those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the righteous.

The LORD watches over
the strangers; he upholds
the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked
he brings to ruin.
Psalm 146:8-9

Prayers for Peacemakers, September 25, 2013
Pray for the family of Staff Sgt. Gal Kobi, killed by a Palestinian sniper this week in Hebron.  In reprisal, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu authorized settlers to take over a building in Hebron near the checkpoint that CPTers monitor every morning for school patrol.  Having a new Israeli settlement near the checkpoint will greatly increase the physical risk to children and teachers coming to school, as well as making the lives of the people living in the neighborhood a nightmare.

 

Related Story: AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Settlers re-occupy Abu Rajib house

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Settlers re-occupy Abu Rajib house


On 23 September 2013, in response to the death of Israeli soldier Staff Sgt. Gal Kobi, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for illegal settlement expansion in the Old City of Hebron.

At 1:00 a.m. on Tuesday 24 September, the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron received reports from the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee that Israeli settlers had re-occupied the Abu Rajib house west of the Tomb of the Patriarchs.  Settlers had been evicted from the building in April of 2012.

The resettlement of the Abu Rajib house is a direct and significant risk to the community of Hebron, international law, and human rights, as settlements are illegal under international law and impede the ongoing peace process.

In addition to the illegality of the settlement, the location of Abu Rajib will constitute a severe threat to the freedom of movement for Palestinians.  The house sits between two Palestinian Schools and Israeli military checkpoint 209, which CPT monitors every morning as part of its school patrol.  If the settlement remains, it will be in the middle of an area hundreds of Palestinian children must pass each morning to attend classes.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli military increases stranglehold on Hebron’s Old City area in preparation for Sukkoth

 
 

Israeli military searching and detaining Palestinian males
in the area around Checkpoint 29.

The military had closed checkpoint 29 and 209 meaning
CPT could not enter the area.  However the team observed
between 35-40 soldiers as well as several support vehicles
entering the neighbourhood beyond checkpoint 29. All
detained Palestinians where also taken into this
neighbourhood. CPT was unable to follow and does not
know what happened to these men.

Israeli security forces have added random check points, confiscated Palestinian housing units for patrol towers, and increased random searches of Palestinians, ostensibly to provide security for settlers and Jewish visitors to Hebron for the Jewish Holiday of Sukkoth.

Meanwhile, clashes also took place outside Checkpoints 209, which CPT monitors as part of its school accompaniment, and 29 near the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpelah.  To prepare for the large influx of Jewish tourists, the Israeli military had moved the roadblocks outside these two checkpoints approximately 200 meters further down the road and re-directed Israeli tour buses down this route.  This move effectively enlarged area H2 under Israeli military control and disrupted life for hundreds of Palestinians.

Clashes started in the morning around these checkpoints as Israeli soldiers fired rounds of tear gas, sound bombs, and rubber-coated metal bullets onto the streets for several hours—lasting until dark.

Soldiers injured several Palestinians, including some shot during clashes in Bab iZaweyya, the economic center of Hebron just outside of the Old City.

As the night progressed, soldiers shut down checkpoints 29 and 209 completely, detaining and arresting several groups of Palestinians around the area.  They also prevented human right observers from monitoring the escalations between Israelis and Palestinians.

Soldiers took the Palestinians they detained to areas where human rights observers could not enter.

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON) REFLECTION: I am no longer a pacifist.

I've been a Mennonite for twenty years and a Mennonite pastor for three years.  But after a trip to Israel and Palestine this summer, I can no longer call myself a pacifist.

After spending just a few short days with a Christian Peacemaker Team delegation in Hebron, a tense city in the West Bank, I realized that opposing war–being a pacifist–is a position of privilege.  It’s easy for me to say that I oppose things, like war and violence.  I live a pretty secure life. 

In Hebron, Palestinians have to go through checkpoints every day of their lives.  Their bags are subject to search in these checkpoints, and they can be stopped on the street to show their papers to any military person who wishes to see them.  There are places in the city that they are not allowed to be, places that settlers can drive their cars but Palestinians cannot.  They live in an apartheid system.

 
 Hani Abu Haikel (left) interviewing and
translating for Hebron team

After watching soldiers or border police stopping my Palestinian friends and making them show their papers and explain where they were going several days in a row, I could feel my blood pressure rise, and my fists clench.  How can I simply be against war and violence when this is happening right in front of me!

I understood, when I felt those physical manifestations of anger, why Palestinians threw rocks at Israeli soldiers.  Or worse.  If my blood was boiling just watching this happen to Palestinian friends a few times, how much harder would it be to experience that personally every day?

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Israeli military denies entry to third CPTer in three months




 Brenneman in olive tree

On Tuesday, 17 September full-time CPTer Jonathan Brenneman was turned away at the Allenby border crossing between Jordan and the West Bank.

The Israeli authorities detained and questioned Brenneman for over seven hours before eventually sending him back to Jordan. When the Hebron team spoke to Brenneman, he had been waiting on the bridge for seven hours.  At the end of the conversation, Israeli security called him over.

During the process, Brenneman explained to the Israeli Border Patrol that he had come to Israel-Palestine to work with the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron. 

SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: Report from Firing Zone 918

During their most recent weekly visit to villages in the South Hebron Hills, CPTers witnessed a large group of Israeli soldiers in the area and heard an artillery training activity.  Every week, Christian Peacemaker Teams, along with other internationals, provides a presence in an area, home to twelve villages, that the Israeli military has designated as Firing Zone 918—a closed military zone for training maneuvers.

On Sunday, 15 September, CPTers witnessed soldiers and a military vehicle near the village of Halaweh and two helicopter flyovers as children studied and played at the school in Al Fakheit.   They heard several other helicopters flying nearby during the night.  On the morning of 16 September, CPTers heard what seemed to be bomb detonation and machine gun fire.  Later in the morning, when they visited the village of Jinba, residents confirmed that the Israeli military had conducted infantry training exercises nearby from about 6:00 to 8:00 a.m. that morning. 

During their visit to Jinba village, CPTers learned that the Israeli authorities had stopped employees of World Vision as they were driving from Jinba to Al Fakheit and confiscated their car on 11 September.  According to a United Nations employee, soldiers said they would not return the car for at least sixty days.

The area has been relatively quiet since May – with no training activities seen or heard, though helicopter flyovers continued even during this “quiet” time and settler violence and a military raid occurred in July.  Here is a video of an Israeli military helicopter harrassing the village of Al Fakheit:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HuOPkIekYII

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Clashes erupt in Hebron at end of August

 

 
  Tear gas in Baab-i-Zawwiyye

On the morning of Monday, 26 August Israeli soldiers raided the Qalandia refugee camp to make an arrest.  As the soldiers moved through the camp, crowds gathered, and protests, which included stone-throwing, began.  In response, the Israeli military killed three Palestinians and injured fifteen.  The events in Qalandia created waves of protest throughout the West Bank.  That afternoon clashes erupted in Hebron.

Crowds of men and boys had gathered near a checkpoint in H1 (the part of Hebron under nominal Palestinian control).  When CPTers arrived, the crowds had begun throwing stones.  Israeli soldiers were on roofs.

A few blocks from the checkpoint (still in H1, where according to the Hebron protocols, Israeli soldiers are not allowed to be), soldiers had set off sound bombs.  As CPTers approached, the soldiers were retreating back towards the checkpoint; while most of the soldiers seemed relatively calm, one soldier was clearly agitated and momentarily focused his anger on CPTers before they retreated.