Sophia's Peace Work

Friday, August 05, 2005

Update from me and the Christian Peacemaker Team in the Old City of Hebron

I'm running around trying to get everything ready for my trip to Canada and the U.S. I leave tomorrow with 12 Iraqis from my organization and various universities around Iraq for one month ... first to the INTECOL conference in Montreal (and a follow-up study tour of marshes in Canada ... the last day features a trip to Niagara Falls ... the Iraqis will love that!). I will then travel on to stay a week with my parents and another week (featuring a Tai Chi Retreat) with my friends back in the U.S. Most of the time I need to continue my work though ... when I come back to Amman, I have a 22 Iraqi and regional environmental NGO's descending upon Amman for a meeting that I'm organizing for Nature-Iraq ... busy, busy, busy!

And from the sound of this post from the CPT Team in Hebron ... the Israeli Military has been busy too. The CPT apartment in Hebron is located in this new "prison" along with many, many Palestinian families. As the news is filled with stories of the Gaza pull-out (which may or may not happen), Israel is quietly tightening the noose on many Palestinian communities in the West Bank ... most likely planning on expanding settlements there in violation of all their past agreements.

Closing the Gates to the Old City of Hebron
By JoAnne Lingle - August 5, 2005

HEBRON-On August 3, 2005, the Israeli Military installed five iron gates on the main entrances to the Old City of Hebron. The previous week, a locked iron door was installed at a tunnel entrance near the Beit Romano checkpoint. The only remaining access to the old city is the checkpoint. The old city has become a de facto jail with Israeli soldiers holding the key to the door.

"Citizens of the Old City are now locked into their houses and wondering how to get into and out from the city and how they will have a life!... by sealing all its entrances and exits, the Israeli authority are aiming at evacuating the old city from its original inhabitants by making their lives impossible,... giving more space and free hands for the settlers and their enclaves in the Old City. With this action, the Old City of Hebron (has) become like a big prison." (Hebron Rehabilitation Committee press release, 3/8/2005)

CPT urges individuals and organizations to pressure the Israeli government and international community to alleviate the oppression of the Palestinian residents imposed by this closure of the Old City of Hebron.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Just a typical day in the West Bank

The following is a post from the Christian Peacemaker Team in the southern West Bank town of At-Tuwani. It's simply a story of how some Israeli soldiers chased Palestinian shepherds out of their fields yesturday (1 August 2005). But it also gives you a taste of how many things work in the occupied West Bank ... the connection between the soldiers and the settlers, the way that Palestinians most frequently use to resist and protests the injustices practice upon them and what happens to them even when they do not use physical violence against the Israelies. It also give an idea of what role the internationals play in protecting human life in the West Bank.


At 7:30AM, 1 August 2005, Israeli soldiers drove up to Palestinian shepherds in their fields in Khoruba, near the Palestinian villages of At-Tuwani and Mufukara, and beside the settlement outpost of Havot Ma'on.

A Palestinian man from At-Tuwani showed the soldiers a map depicting the areas in the region that are closed military zones, where it is forbidden for people to go. The area that the shepherds were grazing their flocks in is not a closed military zone. The map was given to the Palestinian by his lawyer, who received the map from the Israeli military.

The soldiers took the map and went to speak with a Ma'on settler security person. The soldiers then told the Palestinian man to move the sheep from the valley, and the soldiers ran down the valley to chase the sheep, cocking their guns to scare them. The shepherds moved the sheep to the top of the hill. After half an hour the military and settler security vehicles left.

At 9AM the Israeli military commander for the region came back with the map to speak with the shepherds. The commander said: "This map is bull----! It's not signed. It's not from the army. The area is in the courts, until the courts decide what to do it is closed for everyone." The commander then ripped up the map. The shepherds were moving their sheep back to At-Tuwani, but the soldiers continued to chase and scare the sheep.

One Palestinian man from At-Tuwani shouted and tore his shirt in frustration. Three soldiers grabbed him, forced him to the ground, and kicked him in the abdomen and legs.

CPTers Mary Yoder, Diane Janzen and members of Operation Dove(Doves) documented the incident. When Janzen shouted at the soldiers, "Don't use excessive force. I'm taping you; the media will see this," the soldiers released the man.

A Dove went with the Palestinian man to complain to the Israeli police in Kiryat Arba about the soldier's behavior. While at Kiryat Arba the Palestinian man was arrested, with stated conditions of eight days in jail or 2000 NIS in bail. An Israeli friend paid the bale.

There is no formal charge against the Palestinian man – the soldiers are saying that he hit a soldier and tried to take a soldier's gun. The police refused to wait for the video tape of the incident before arresting the Palestinian man.

Photos of the incident are available at the CPT Photo Gallery
Media interested in video of the incident contact Diane Janzen at 0546-893-690.