al-Khalil (Hebron)

HEBRON UPDATE: 17 May-14 June 2008

Tuesday, 27 May

Janzen and Benvie visited a local friend and found that three settler boys had stolen his donkey. Even though the police called the guard at Harsina settlement, he would not stop the boys. The donkey's owner had just spoken to a local settler, for whom he had worked, who offered to look into getting the donkey back. The donkey was thirteen-years-old and had been trained to walk in the field between the rows without stepping on any plants.

Fallon, Van Hoogstraten, Uhler, and a visitor had tea with the former mayor of Beit Ummar. The Israeli military authorities had just released him from prison after eleven months in administrative detention. The initial charges--Hamas membership and being elected mayor from the Hamas party--were dropped by the judge, after which, the military took up the case and decided the evidence in a "secret file" justified holding him. He told the CPTers that he is willing to go to jail for the rest of his life rather than betray the people who freely elected him mayor. He said he and his family are willing and "very happy" to make this sacrifice.


BEIT UMMAR: Tragedy in Beit Ummar, Part II--rest in peace?

On 1 Feb. 2008, Israeli authorities released the bodies of Mahmoud and Muhammed Sabarnah to the Palestine Red Crescent Society for burial in their home community of Beit Ummar in the Hebron District.…

After noon prayers at the mosque in memory of the two men—now called “martyrs”—a funeral procession of 3,000 mourners began carrying the bodies towards the cemetery. Six internationals, including CPTers Tarek Abuata and Doug Pritchard and four members of the International Solidarity Movement, positioned themselves almost at the front of the procession. As the procession came within sight of road #60 and the final approach to the cemetery, the IDF had closed a gate across the street. Before anyone reached the gate, and without any provocation or warning, the IDF began firing on the procession, first with live ammunition, and then with plastic bullets, tear gas, and concussion grenades.

BEIT UMMAR: Tragedy in Beit Ummar, Part I—a closer look

I sat in the Jerusalem Hotel restaurant on Sunday, 27 January 2007 and read the headline in the Israeli newspaper, Ha’aretz, "Yeshiva counselor who killed terrorists lives to tell the tale." In that article Elyakim Kovatch, the counselor who shot two intruders, used the word "terrorist" twelve times to refer to the young men he killed.

I boarded the bus for Hebron, and got off at Beit Ummar to meet the grieving families of the men whom Kovatch had shot.

Hebron Update: 31 December 2007 – 14 January 2008

Wednesday 02 January

…When Benvie and Uhler picked up “Hani” (not his real name), an eight-year-old boy confined to a wheelchair, at the Ibrahimi Boys School to take him home, a teacher said that eight to ten soldiers broke into the school that morning during exams. He said they disrupted all the classes and insulted the teachers and headmaster in front of the students. The soldiers made the boys put their hands up. The little boys became afraid and some of them wet their pants. The soldiers said they saw an armed Palestinian policeman go into the school in the morning. The teacher said, “We ask God to give us patience.”

Saturday 12 January

…CPTers Benvie and Funk spent five hours along Wadi Al Nasara accompanying Palestinians. Settlers were harassing them and soldiers were ignoring them. In one instance, three settler boys came towards a Palestinian man. One of the boys spoke in Arabic and insulted the Prophet Mohammed, saying he was a pig. The man became angry and Benvie stepped between him and the boys. The man was able to go on his way. A soldier stood and watched, but did not offer any help or try to redress the boys’ conduct.

A group of eight to ten settler girls pulled Benvie from where she was standing and dragged her to the middle of road. They hit, pushed and kicked her until she fell down. A boy sprayed something in Funk’s face, making it difficult for him to see clearly. Throughout the attack, the soldier stood and watched what was happening. Eventually another soldier saw what the settler boys and girls were doing and moved forward to stop them.

HEBRON REFLECTION: A check on worship

How many checkpoints do you have to pass through to go to your place of worship? How many would you be happy/willing to go through? Or, would you give up going to that particular place of worship and go somewhere else?

Here in Hebron, Muslim worshippers going to the Ibrahimi Mosque have to pass through at least two, often three or more, Israeli military checkpoints. Palestinians coming from the south or southwest areas of Hebron must first pass through a checkpoint that includes a metal detector. Then, 250 yards further along the road, they must pass through another checkpoint, where soldiers may stop them and ask for their ID. Sometimes the Israeli military will allow them to pass, sometimes not, and sometimes they will have to undergo a body search. Then, 100 yards further along, at the entrance to the mosque, they will have to pass through another checkpoint and metal detector, again staffed by Israeli military. At this checkpoint, worshippers may again face demands for their ID and have to wait for a time.

AT-TUWANI: CPT releases video of soldiers exposing buttocks to Palestinian shepherd and international volunteers


Friday, 11 January 2008, soldiers from the Israeli Army displayed their buttocks in a gesture known colloquially as “mooning” to a Palestinian shepherd and two international volunteers from Christian Peacemaker Teams…

For video of the incident see

SPECIAL HEBRON UPDATE: Gaza, Beit Ummar, and Hebron, 25-27 January 2008

The Hebron team responded in many directions as events unfolded in Gaza, Beit Ummar, and Hebron this past weekend.

Friday morning, 25 January, the team received news that two Palestinians were killed attempting an attack in the settlement of Gush Etzion. CPT later learned that the two dead were from Beit Ummar and closely related to friends of the team. The Israeli army entered Beit Ummar during Friday prayers, surrounding the mosque.

As the team determined a response for Beit Ummar, four team members on a tour of Shuhada Street with the Israeli group Breaking the Silence witnessed Israeli settler harassment against the Israeli tour leaders.

Meanwhile CPT Hebron was preparing to send two team members to participate in an Israeli-organized relief convoy to Gaza. Jessica Frederick and Paulette Schroeder left to join the Gaza convoy. Dianne Roe and Eileen Hanson traveled to Beit Ummar.

HEBRON POEM: Identities

race, class, sex, age
locating ‘the self’

HEBRON REFLECTION: “We will study war no more”

I am reminded of the wisdom of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it . . . Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars . . . Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

HEBRON UPDATE: 17-30 December 2007

Tuesday 25 December
On Mosque patrol, Johann Funk observed that border police were ordering veiled women to show their faces and all women to remove their belts. While searching one bag, a border police officer ordered the Palestinian to open a snack pack. As the officer examined the contents, he flung some at the Palestinian and waved him away. As the Palestinian left, the soldier finished the snack to the laughter of his companions.