A Day in the Life

Up at the break of dawn

Up at the break of dawn

I often get the question, “What’s an ordinary day like for you?” I’m not sure if there is an ordinary day for CPT in Hebron, but here’s a story of an extra-ordinary day.

February 13, I woke up at around 6:30 to prepare for ‘school patrol’ at 7. I made a pot of coffee, possibly the most important key to our work. At 7 another CPTer and I went to ‘Checkpoint 209’ near the Ibrihimi School to monitor that children and teachers are not being harassed by the soldiers at the checkpoint on their way to school. On a ‘normal’ day there would also be two CPTers at another checkpoint, but the two other CPTers were quite ill and unable to work.

After monitoring the checkpoint for an hour we left to go shopping. We were hosting a breakfast meeting with two other international organizations, and were short on supplies. Usually we would have a short worship as a team at 8:30, but shopping took us longer then we expected and we barely made it back in time to prepare for the meeting at 9.

The meeting of the acronyms includes CPT, ISM (International Solidarity Movement, and EAPPI (Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel), three international organizations doing similar work in Hebron. In the meeting we check in with the teams and coordinate who will take on different tasks that week. ISM had two members in the process of being deported due to their participation in a non-violent action ‘Canaan‘. EAPPI was about to turn their work over to a whole new team coming into the country, and CPT only had 2 functional members. Even with this we were able to work together to make sure all of our usual work would get done. Near the end of the meeting ISM got a call that there was a demolition in a village outside of the city. They left for that and updated us later about the happenings.

After the meeting we took our two sick teammates to the hospital. This was an amazingly stressful experience. The hospital was chaotic and we were shuffled from room to room without any real instruction. The best Arabic speaker nearly had a breakdown trying to navigate the systems within the hospital. I mostly tried to keep her sane and make sure the two sick CPTers didn’t faint from all the chaos. After three stressful hours we were told they both had lung infections and would be out of commission for another few days, but would be getting better with medicine.

I took the two back to the office, made them some soup, and sent them to bed, while the other CPTer got their prescriptions  I got a quick bite to eat before it was time for me to lead a ‘rooftop tour’.

A group of German tourists were visiting Hebron and wanted to hear about CPT’s work. When groups want this we take them to our roof, from which one can see the whole city. We look into the neighboring Israeli army base and and settlement; look down at Shuhada Street, which is off limits to Palestinians; and in the distance see the Ibrahimi Mosque (Tomb of the Patriarch), the major tourist attraction of Hebron. I also tell groups about the work CPT does in the city. The group was great to work with. They asked good questions. I was so encouraged by their responses to the tour, and their passion for Palestine. After our short tour we sent the group off with a Palestinian tour guide to visit the people and places around the city. Giving ‘rooftop tours’ is one of my favorite parts of my job.

After the tour I took some time to catch up on emails and relax before we went out on a patrol. We walked through the old marketplace to the Ibrihimi Mosque then to the Ibrihimi School when we heard a commotion and went to investigate.

We saw an ambulance, some Israeli police and a settler’s car near Checkpoint 209. We asked a Palestinian boy sitting nearby what had happened. He told us the settler had sped through the intersection and hit a Palestinian kid on a bike. (Every day we see the settlers driving at unsafe speeds through that intersection.) The boy added that the settler had tried to drive away before a group of Palestinian kids stepped in front of the car to stop it from leaving. As we were talking we saw the settler get back in his car, after talking with the police, and go home. We got contact information for the child, in order to follow up the next day and write up a report. (He had pretty bad cuts on his chin and leg, but was physically ok, although he seemed pretty traumatized when we talked to him).

We returned to the house around 5. I was happy that I didn’t have to cook that night (we rotate, so with only two of us well I was cooking every other night). I got a nice hour to relax before dinner. After I was on dish duty. It was therapeutic, just listening to music and processing the day. I thought about how as soon as I was done I would lie down and read a book until I fell asleep. Oh the best laid plans…

As I was drying my hands the other CPTer came into the kitchen and said, “I think there are soldiers outside our door, can you look into it?” I stepped outside, looked down the stairs leading to our apartment and sure enough I saw some olive-green khaki clad men outside. I went down to see what they were doing. They were just standing around, so I asked if there was a problem and they said no, but just stayed there. Well I wasn’t going to just go back upstairs while they were down standing at our entrance,  so I stood in the doorway and these seven soldiers kicked the dirt and leaned against the wall. Eventually, and I’m not sure quite how, we got into a conversation. We talked about Hebron, settlers, what soldiers duties are, what CPT does, Israeli politics, history of the region, the morality of killing, the conversation went on and on. On the one hand I appreciated getting the opportunity to hear their views and express mine. On the other hand some of there views were disturbing, and a lot of the time we just talked past each other. After an hour or two they finally headed back to their base. I still have no idea why they were there or why they stayed to chat for so long.

By now I was exhausted, and headed straight to bed, but I couldn’t sleep well. I kept replaying the conversation with the soldiers in my head, analyzing it, critiquing it, thinking what I should have said.

The next morning came way to soon. I got up, made coffee, went to Checkpoint 209. This time we were greeted by 4 army vehicles of soldiers patrolling the area, and the two soldiers at the checkpoint were stopping every second kid to check his or her bag.

Just another day in Hebron.

Prayer:

Pray that I may have endurance
Pray that the two sick CPTers may continue their recovery
Pray that the child hit by the car fully recovers emotionally and physically
Pray that the soldiers may seek justice
Pray that the people of Hebron may be free
Pray for peace

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