5 June 2009

[Note: According to the Geneva Conventions, the International Court of Justice in the Hague, and numerous United Nations resolutions, all Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal.  Most settlement outposts are considered illegal under Israeli law.]

On team for this period were Tarek Abuata, Donna Hicks, David Janzen, Barbara Martens, Paulette Schroeder.

After over eight months of refocusing work and the closure of the Hebron project in August 2008, a team returned to Hebron to reopen the project.  The team met with friends and colleagues in Hebron to let them know CPT was returning to Hebron and to talk about how the team would restructure its work.

Sunday 17 May
The team visited friends in the Beqa'a Valley to express condolences on the death of a family member.  They learned that the Israeli military had dug up and hauled away the family's irrigation pipes two months ago, severely limiting the family's ability to raise their crops.

That evening, Tarek Abuata and Paulette Schroeder responded to a call from a neighbor regarding the Israeli military's invasion of her brother's home near the Ibrahimi Mosque.  (See 22 May 2009 CPTnet release, “Border police invade house near Ibrahimi Mosque.”)

Monday 18 May
Palestinian activists invited the team to join a rally in downtown Hebron organized by Palestinian activists protesting the right-wing Israeli National Union Party's visit to both the Palestinian- and Israeli-controlled sections of Hebron.  Israeli authorities had rescinded the permit to visit the Palestinian-controlled section earlier that morning.

Friday 23 May
Thirty Palestinians organized by "Youth Against the Settlements," together with twelve internationals, including CPTers, joined forces to remove a settlement outpost on Palestinian land taken by the nearby Givat Ha Harsina settlement.

Two weeks earlier, settlers erected a tent/shed as the beginnings of a new outpost.  Participants in the witness knocked down poles and cut electrical lines at the outpost.  Before they could finish removing the structure, five settler youth and soldiers in two army jeeps confronted the Palestinians.  A soldier produced a "closed military zone" document without a date, according to one of the leaders of the action.  Nevertheless, after some skirmishes between the settler youth, the military and the Palestinians, the Israeli military forced all the peace activists to leave the area.  The soldiers promised that the settlers would also be leaving the area.  However, the military allowed the settler youth to follow and harass the Palestinians, which brought the settlers deeper into Palestinian agricultural areas

A setter youth attacked a soldier, bloodying his face.  The police made no arrests.  

Wednesday 27 May
Hicks and Martens attended the Palestine Festival of Literature session organized by the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee.  Journalists and writers heard from Palestinians about their experiences of life under Israeli military occupation, and international groups, including CPT, were recognized for their accompaniment work.

Friday 29 May
CPT reservists Gretchen and Dick Williams and a group from a Sabeel pilgrimage visited with CPT. After the group had left, a Palestinian alerted Hicks and Martens on their way back to the Old City that a squad of Israeli soldiers had a Palestinian boy in custody.  The CPTers observed that a soldier had the child by his collar, roughly walking him down towards the main street.  Martens walked up to the soldiers and asked the soldiers to release him after trying to determine why they had taken him.  "He has thrown stones at our military post," the soldier said.  Martens replied, ""How can that hurt you?  You have the guns, he only a stone.  Don't you have little brothers who would do the same?"  As Martens persisted walking alongside them, the soldier said, "His parents have not taught him not to throw stones so we must teach him a lesson.  He is a terrorist."  After more speaking on the boy's behalf by Martens, the soldiers released the child who by then was openly crying from fear of a beating.