Sophia's Peace Work

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Shabab Go Wild

Just got back from Jerusalem and all hell has broken loose here in Hebron. There is a major prison strike/fast going on in Palestine ... it's hard to meet a Palestinian who hasn't had someone from his family incarcerated. When we arrived back in Hebron and were walking down the hill to the Old City where we live, we heard tear gas canisters popping and there were alot of Palestinian Shabab ("Youth") hanging around ... up ahead we could see more on rooftops throwing rocks down, presumably at soldiers though I couldn't really see them. The Shabab were out of control and some started throwing rocks at us. It was really chaotic. Some of the kids were trying to help us and the rest were taking out their aggressions on us. They pushed Christina, an elderly New Zealander, down on the pavement and I had but ass pinched more times than I could count. We finally got away from them and then down to the square above the Old City.

A TIPH (Temporary Presence in Hebron) patrol was there and told us that it had been going on all day ... apparently it had partially been started by a demonstration by families in support of their relatives in prison. We finally went home, dropped our bags and headed back out on patrol back up to the square. Just as we were approaching we heard another tear gas canister go off ... there were four Israeli Army trucks lined up in the square with lots of soldiers hanging around and up the street, where we'd been before, it looked like an impromptu barracade had been erected.

There were now six of us watching (4 CPT'ers and 2 TIPH's) and eventually things calmed down. As we watched, we discussed the situations and wondered how we could intervene in any kind of nonviolent way.

"The best and only way I've found so far," said Cal, a newly arrived CPT'er, rejoining the team, "is just to observe."

"You know none of this would be happening," said Mia, another newly returned CPT'er, "if the Israeli soldiers just didn't come into the square."

"It's a face off," I said, "Palestinian Shabab against Israeli Shabab."

As we stood there, along with a few Palestinian kids watching, an old woman walked by and admonished the children with us to get off the streets and go home. There were few adults to be seen ... only here and there a few parents rushing their children through the area.

I looked at the kids and thought, "Hmmmm, if I were their age, I'd probably be sneaking out onto the streets too. They probably find this all very exciting."

Finally the Israeli's drove off and the whole show was over. We walked back, through the quiet (thankfully) Beit Ramano Checkpoint and into the Old City to our home. There were some Palestinian boys slaughtering and skinning rabbits on our street ... either for dinner or for market. We didn't stop to ask, slightly unsettled by the sight of the bunny massacre after all the craziness we had just witnessed.

I'm ready to end this day.


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