HEBRON UPDATE: 15 April-14 May 2008
16 June 2008
HEBRON UPDATE: 15 April-14 May 2008
On team during this period were Art Arbour, Sally Britton, Jean Fallon, Mary Anne Grady Flores (intern), Lorne Friesen, Jill Granberg, David Janzen, Alwyn Knight, JoAnne Lingle, and Paul Rehm.
The Israeli Army repeatedly threatened to close orphanages of the Islamic Charitable Society and raided several ICS facilities, causing extensive damage and confiscating thousands of dollars worth of materials. CPT set up a structure to facilitate concerned internationals spending the night in the buildings, a structure the team will continue and extend into the coming summer.
Tuesday 15 April
Arbour responded to a call for his presence at the Al Rahma bakery, run by the Islamic Charitable Society, which supplies bread to children's orphanages. He photographed the results of a raid by soldiers during the night: walk-in ovens and heating ducts wrecked, and all raw materials, equipment, and most of the inventory confiscated.
Knight, Lingle, and Rehm visited Mousa Abu Maria's brother Yusef and their father, Abdul Hamid Abu Maria. Mousa is a non-violent peace activist in Beit Ummar, abducted by the Israeli army on 11 April.
Wednesday 16 April
At midday, seven jeeps from the Israeli internal security service, police and soldiers, came to the Hebron Girls' Orphanage with a military order demanding that the Islamic Charitable Society vacate the orphanage's sewing workshop by 28 April.
Monday 21 April
Knight and Friesen found the Ibrahimi Mosque gate shut during school patrol. Another gate was open, but razor wire prevented access to Shuhada Street, the main street around the old city. Soldiers would not allow the CPTers to pass. As they returned, they met a neighbor, who took the CPTers through someone's home. Police would not allow the CPTers to cross the street for some time and detained Palestinians coming from the opposite direction.
Both schools in the CPT neighborhood were intending to send children home early that day and the next, since the Israelis would have access to the whole mosque, and many Jewish visitors were coming for the Passover celebrations. A very heavy police and army presence was evident.
Wednesday 30 April
On Tuesday evening, Friesen and Arbour stayed overnight at the Al-Shari'yah girls' school and orphanage. At approximately 1:15 a.m. Friesen received a call from the guardhouse that the soldiers had come. Friesen was able to observe soldiers inside the sewing workshop. They had come in from the street entrance and were trying to find a way of opening the door from the workshop to the school playground. Friesen went to the third floor to videotape from a discrete location, while Arbour and the others went to the school playground where Arbour made his presence known to the soldiers and videotaped from close up. The soldiers were surprised at first to find others present. Approximately twenty soldiers were busy carrying things out of the workshop to a forty-foot trailer just past the gate. The process of loading the truck lasted at least three hours. Towards the end of their loading, Friesen and Arbour went to the street, to find about eight jeeps and other military vehicles. The military had brought three large trucks to load up the contents of the workshop. When Friesen took a picture of the soldiers in front of the school, the soldiers threatened him with arrest.
After the military left, four members of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, including their commander, showed up. The Israeli military had prevented them from approaching the school while the military was raiding the workshop.
Saturday 3 May
Friesen, Hough (from the Tuwani team), and Rehm took part in a barley harvesting action near the tent synagogue set up on Jabari farmland near Kiryat Arba. The army and one settler observed the action until the Israeli police arrived and asked that the harvesting be halted. The Palestinian directing the activities called a stop to the work after about two hours.
Tuesday 6 May
The team traveled to Jerusalem to attend Arbour's wedding. They returned late because the military closed the roads into Hebron.
Wednesday 7 May
Fallon went with a translator to monitor student elections at Hebron University. Most of the students backed Hamas, which has controlled the student council for over ten years, and Fatah. The team heard rumors that the latter was using money and threats to push students to elect their candidates. Many observers waited outside the gate, and the team learned that the whole city was watching the results as an indication of where the future lies. Fatah won.
Thursday 8 May
Britton, Fallon, Janzen and Rehm went to a meeting in Beit Ummar and viewed the expansion-by extending the perimeter fencing-of the Karme Tzur settlement. The settlement's angry, gun-toting, security guard challenged their presence in an adjacent field.
Saturday 10 May
Janzen and Rehm responded to a report of settlers outside the souq throwing stones at Palestinian youths in the souq. When they arrived at the scene, they saw settler youth walking away.
Sunday 11 May-Pentecost Sunday
The team went to Jerusalem for worship, and enjoyed lunch with Arbour and his new wife, Beverly.
Tuesday 13 May
Janzen investigated a report that the Israeli army had entered the souq and closed the Mosque gate. Roughly twenty soldiers closed off the old city looking for a man with a gun.
Wednesday 14 May
The new team from Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel visited the team for dinner in the evening.