HEBRON UPDATE: 1-16 April 2010

4 May 2010
HEBRON UPDATE: 1-16 April 2010

On team during this period were Nina Chiba, Alwyn Knight, Paul Rehm, Ryan Schiffer, Paulette Schroeder. 
General Situation
Several youth arrested in Hebron appeared in Israeli military courts during the month.
Moslem leaders are encouraging local people to use the Ibrahimi Mosque following the announcement by the Israeli prime minister that the Ibrahimi Mosque complex is now regarded as a Jewish Historical Site.  CPTers are continuing to visit shopkeepers in the Old City, and families at risk of settler and soldier attack in Al Bweireh.  In addition to the daily Mosque, Al Sahla Street, and Qitoun checkpoint school patrols, CPTers together with EAPPI continue to visit the village of Al Bweireh each school day afternoon.

Acts of Palestinian Resistance
Saturday 3 April
Schiffer and Knight visited Idhna to witness the planting of about 100 olive trees by local farmers.  About 250 women, men and children took part in the event, which was on Palestinian-owned land a few hundred metres from the separation fence, and on land that is under threat of confiscation by Israeli authorities.  Regularly held actions in the village often attract the attention of the Israeli military, but on this occasion no soldiers were present, though they were obviously aware of what was happening because a security camera points directly towards the land in question.

After the planting, the CPTers were invited to a festival organised by the Palestine People's Party—the successor organisation to the Communist Party and the Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee.  Party organizers from Palestine and Israel gave speeches; then local musicians played Palestinian music, joined often by the men dancing.

Israeli Settler actions
Wednesday 7 April
At 2:00 p.m., CPTers received a call that settlers and soldiers were trying to break into Palestinian-owned properties on Shuhada Street.  When Knight and Schroeder arrived, the incident had ended, but TIPH, and local press were there, together with Israeli soldiers and police.  Knight and Schroeder learned that up to ten settlers and soldiers had unsuccessfully tried to break into an empty Palestinian house near the Qurtuba School, and then into the adjacent occupied house. 

Thursday 8 April 
The son of one of the Palestinian shopkeepers who has a store opposite the Israeli Gutnick Centre had to visit the Israeli police station in Kiryat Arba to try to identify settler(s) who had attacked him (the son) the day before, while he was in his father's shop.  The usually cheerful shopkeeper seemed worried about his son, saying, “I am sorry.  Usually I am happy, but today I am sad.”

Israeli military action 
Thursday 1 April

The Mosque turnstile was closed, because Israelis were celebrating Pesach (Passover), and had exclusive use of the mosque complex for two days.  CPTers tried to approach the Qitoun checkpoint via Shuhada Street, but the Israeli military prevented them from doing so.  They had to take a long taxi ride to the Qitoun Checkpoint.  Children and teachers who normally use the Mosque checkpoint got to school through the home of the “Ladder Lady” who has in the past made attending school possible for the children and teachers by putting a ladder outside her window onto Shuhada Street.

Saturday 3 April

CPT's neighbor temporarily removed the "security" razor wire attached to the fence below the CPT apartment, hoping to sweep underneath the wire and remove the rags, the plastic bags and papers which had accumulated on the sharp razor coils.  As she swept the area, three of the Old City's shabab (young men) sat on the curbside near her, engaged in conversation with her about the new football team they were hoping to organize with their friends from the Old City.

 Suddenly, alerted by the soldier at his post nearby, six soldiers appeared on the scene.  The soldiers marched the shabab to the Beit Romano checkpoint where they led the youth behind a gate.  The CPTers and their neighbor attempted to reason with the soldiers, insisting that the boys were doing nothing.  Within fifteen minutes, however, the police jeep arrived and hauled the young men to the Kiryat Arba jail. 

The neighbor called the Captain, explaining that she had loosened the wire.  The boys had not been at the scene when she had done so.  Both the soldier who called the patrol to the scene and the soldier on the rooftop nearby had seen that the neighbor had been the person who had loosened the wire.  In approximately one hour, the police released the three youth.


Tuesday 6 April

A teacher who regularly passes the Mosque Checkpoint showed Schroeder cigarette burns a soldier had made in his shirt.  The soldier had stopped him at the Mosque gate and had told him to say, “Yasser Arafat is a son of a bitch.”  He refused, and the soldier burned his shirt and chest in two places.  He was unwilling to report the incident, for fear of reprisals.  See picture of the cigarette burns here

Thursday 15 April
Knight attempted to visit Jerusalem.  The Israeli authorities have forbidden internationals from leaving Bethlehem via the checkpoint below Beit Jala, so he went to the Gilo checkpoint.  Before he completed his passage through the checkpoint, he was detained with three Palestinians for forty-five minutes.  When he realized he was not going to make it to Jerusalem in time to do what he wanted to do, Knight exited via a turnstile that led back into Bethlehem.  He then saw about 100 Palestinians and internationals waiting in a queue.  Two Palestinians at the front of the queue had hospital appointments for that afternoon, which they almost certainly missed.

When he returned to the CPT apartment, Knight telephoned the office of the Bethlehem Civil Administrator.  He was told that the checkpoint was closed “for a military exercise.”  Soldiers gave no explanations or apologies to people queuing to use the checkpoint.
Friday 16 April 
Rehm and Schroeder went to a school in Beit Ummar for a commemoration of Prisoners' Day.  The ceremony began peacefully, but then the Israeli military arrived, and took up positions on rooftops.  Meanwhile, outside, young men began to throw stones.  The Israeli military ordered the organisers of the event to stop the music and speeches.  The organisers appeared to comply with the instruction but students sat down and began to clap.  The Israeli military seemed confused.  Meanwhile young men were still throwing stones outside the school, and this occupied the army for some time, as they responded with tear gas and percussion grenades.  The distraction enabled the proceedings in the school to continue.

Afterwards, CPTers intervened with the Israeli military, persuading soldiers to open a closed military barrier, and to remove military vehicles that were preventing Palestinians from leaving the village.