Hebron: Collective Punishment Touches Both Palestinians and Israelis

Collective Punishment touches both Palestinians and Israelis
By Kathleen Kern

Last week in the market, I heard the word "Kahane"
repeated over and over again. Since I knew that Meir
Kahane, founder of the rightwing Kach party in Israel,
had been assassinated a decade earlier, I thought
"kahane" must be an Arabic word I didn't know.
The next day, New Year's Eve, I learned that Binyamin
Kahane, son of Meir Kahane, had been killed by gunmen
near the settlement of Ofra, along with his wife, Talia.
They left behind six orphans, three of whom were
wounded in the attack that killed their parents. Later that
day, settler women trashed shops along Shuhada Street
on New Year's Eve, while soldiers tried in vain to stop
them (regulations stipulate that female soldiers only are
allowed to touch the settler women because of their
religious sensitivities.)

This morning, one of our translators told us that about 40
people were injured in a car bomb explosion in the Israeli
city of Netanya on Monday and that approximately 13
had been hurt in bombing in Tel Aviv. (Because our
phone lines serving people in the Old City were cut by
vandals, we had been cut off from e-mail, our primary
source for news.) My teammate Bob just returned
visiting with the relatives of a Palestinian boy killed on
the streets of Hart iSheik when soldiers shot into that
neighborhood. We had heard the explosions as we left
our apartment to spend New Year's Eve with friends in
Bethlehem--at nearly the same time we had witnessed
the settler women attacking Palestinian shops.

Almost anytime Israelis are killed within Israel and the
Occupied Territories, Palestinians, their homes and their
shops are attacked by settlers. After weeks of
Palestinian civilians getting shot by soldiers--sometimes
in clashes, sometimes not, Palestinian neighborhoods
getting shelled by Israeli tanks, and the Palestinian
economy being decimated by Israeli closures, bombs
begin to go off inside Israel, injuring and killing Israeli
civilians as they travel to work and school.
Both Israelis and Palestinians right now are suffering
under collective punishment. Perhaps those of us here on
the Hebron Team need to reiterate what we have been
saying for the last five years: All violence is morally
wrong. Every person, including every Israeli and every
Palestinian is a beloved child of God.

Bombing an entire Palestinian neighborhood or putting a
closure on an entire city for the acts of one or two
gunmen, or bombing civilians in Israel in retaliation for
the oppressive policies in the Occupied Territories must
be unequivocally condemned.

If North Americans would not find it acceptable for
Vietnamese and Central Americans to bomb American
civilians because of U.S. policy in those regions, if they
would not find it acceptable for police to bomb whole
neighborhoods because a gunman shot at them from the
backyard of one of their houses, then they need to speak
out now. They need to say that Palestinian and Israeli
lives are of equal value to North American lives and that
the loss of these lives diminishes the whole human

The cycle of violence will end only when alternatives to
violent revolt are offered to people living under the
violence of the Israeli Occupation in the West Bank and
Gaza. Meanwhile, the toll of the injustices continues to
extend its reach into Palestinian and Israeli lives, with
consequences that will haunt their children and

Christian Peacemaker Teams is a program of Brethren, Quaker and Mennonite
Churches. CPT P. O. Box 6508 Chicago, IL 60680 tel. 312-455-1199 FAX
312-432-1213, E-Mail cpt@igc.org WEB www.cpt.org