HEBRON UPDATE: September 23-October 7, 1999
October 20, 1999
Hebron Update: September 23 - October 7
Thursday, September 23
At 6:00 p.m., the team received a call from Fariel Abu Haikel,
headmistress of a local elementary school. Fariel reported that there were
settlers from the neighboring settlement of Tel Rumeida on her land. The
team left dinner on the table in order to investigate. There they saw that
settlers had erected a "sukkah" (a tent like structure in which Jews live
during the feast of Sukkot in order to remember God's protection while they
were in the wilderness) on the Abu Haikel property. The team notified local
and Israeli journalists.
Saturday, September 25
The entire team spent the morning and early afternoon with the Al Atrash
family in their tent. Abdel Hadi Hantash of the Land Defense Committee
joined the gathering as well, but with bad news. He reported that contrary
to previous information, the Al Atrash's land would not be turned over to
Palestinian autonomy under the new Wye II agreement. Abdel Hadi also
reported that Israel had made public 16 new military orders
for the West Bank that confiscate land for military purposes. In total, the
16 orders confiscate more land than was turned over to Palestinians in the
Wye II agreement. Several hundred people in the Hebron District were given
evacuation orders because their houses happened to be in the newly
confiscated areas, although all of the families plan to defy the orders.
Later that morning, four members of the Israeli Committee Against House
Demolitions arrived to discuss plans to rebuild the Al Atrash home for the
third time this fall. Amos Gvirtz, longtime Israeli activist and proponent
of non-violence, gave a moving tribute to the Al Atrash family and their
tenacity in staying on their land.
Monday, September 27
The entire team participated in an ICAHD rebuilding action in
Wallaje village south of Jerusalem. In 1987 the municipality of Jerusalem
unilaterally and illegally extended its borders to include the land of part
of Wallaje without extending citizenship residency rights to any of the
inhabitants. Therefore the residents of the village are technically in
Jerusalem illegally and are subject to arrest while they watch TV in their
In the afternoon, the Israeli and international rebuilders accompanied the
Palestinian residents into Jerusalem to hold a demonstration across from the
public sukkah of Jerusalem mayor Ehud Olmert. The demonstrators held signs
that read, "Our love for our land is stronger than your bulldozers."
Tuesday, September 28
Bouwmeester and Anne Montgomery attended a meeting in
Bethlehem to discuss what to do about a new checkpoint that is being built
between Bethlehem and Jerusalem. When completed, the new checkpoint will
run parallel to the existing checkpoint and be used by Palestinians only.
Palestinians with permits to enter Jerusalem will have to park their cars on
the Bethlehem side, walk 650 meters along a fenced pathway, and then present
their documents to Israeli military personnel.
The checkpoint is one facet of the Israeli plan to separate Bethlehem from
Jerusalem-thereby consolidating Israeli hegemony over the city before a
final status decision is reached.
Thursday, September 30
Montgomery attended a vigil outside of Jerusalem's courthouse. The vigil
was held to commemorate the anniversary of the kidnapping of Mordechai
Vannunu by members of Mossad (Israel's spy agency). Vannunu was a
technician at Israel's Dimona nuclear plant and exposed the country's
nuclear capability. After his kidnapping, he was tried and convicted of
treason and is currently serving an 18 year sentence.
Friday, October 1
In the afternoon Ben Kenagy met Farial Abu Haikel on the street. She told
him that the settlers had taken their sukkah down and left at the end of the
Sunday October 3
Diane Roe and Atta Jaber went to the Idna/Tarqumia checkpoint to meet with
members of Peace Now and Gush Shalom. The Israeli groups demonstrated
against the Israeli imposed closure of large portions of land in the area
(see Saturday, September 25, above). Hava Keller, peace activist from Gush
Shalom, told Roe, "When they close these lands for military purposes, they
say it is different from confiscation. But they make everyone leave and
then they say it is abandoned. Then they confiscate the land. It has
happened hundreds of times inside Israel.
Wednesday, October 6
Abdel Hadi Hantash visited the team and reported that a new military order
has been issued that confiscates approximately 20,000 acres in the east of
the Hebron district. Dozens of families were given evacuation orders,
though none plan to leave.
Before Abdel Hadi left, an Israeli documentarian producing a film on Hebron
dropped by. He and Abdel Hadi spoke at length about the situation and
planned to go throughout the district together gathering material for the
film. Later Bouwmeester took the film-maker to Atta Jabber's house to meet
the family because Atta and his story will probably be a central focus of
Thursday, October 7
When passing Beit Hadassah settlement, Kenagy was stopped by soldiers who
inquired about CPT's work. One asked if CPT had teams in other places. Ben
told him about the team in Chiapas. "Why are you there?" asked the
soldier. "The Mexican government is oppressing the indigenous people of
Chiapas and taking their land." Ben also explained that CPT had a team in
South Dakota. The soldier also wanted to know why a team was needed there.
"We support the Native Americans there," Ben told him, "who are threatened
with the confiscation of some of their land." To explain the reasons for
the confiscation Ben used the Hebrew word "besta," meaning unjust gain. He
then left the soldier to draw his own conclusions.