Meanwhile in Palestine
My last few posts have been about my situation of being stuck in Jordan. (Plus I’ve done a few interviews about my situation, you can read any of those here, here, here, or here). I wanted to give an update about what I am missing in Hebron.
Since the time I was supposed to join the team there has been a lot of action in Hebron and the surrounding area. In Firing Zone 918 school has started back up which means the team is accompanying the school jeep in the mornings. I miss those rides. Apparently the army is done with summer break too. CPTers have reported an increase in military activity in the area. Bombs going off, live fire, helicopter fly overs. I don’t miss that.
In Hebron itself the situation was even more tense. The week I made my first attempt to cross the border was the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur followed by Sukkot. Yam Kippur is the Jewish day of Atonement, when Jews around the world ask for forgiveness for their sins. Sukkot is celebrated by a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and the building of a Sukkah, a tent made of date palm leaves. One would assume with Hebron being so close to Jerusalem most Jews would go there to celebrate, but the opposite is true, many more Jews come into the city to celebrate Sukkot in Hebron.
To a Palestinian in Hebron Sukkot means that they won’t be able to visit to the Mosque of Abraham for a week. The main checkpoint outside the mosque will be closed for much of that time. Most of the shops in the old city will be closed. There will be even more then the usual thousands of soldiers. The military will spread further into areas that are supposed to be under Palestinian control. And more roads will be blocked.
The Palestinians do not usually react well to this. This year that reaction included riots near three different checkpoints around the city. At one of these riots, near a very troubled neighborhood in the old city a Palestinian sniper shot and killed an Israeli soldier, Sgt Gabriel Koby. He was the second soldier killed in Palestine since the ‘Peace Process’ has started back up. (In that time 7 Palestinian civilians have been killed by Israeli soldiers.)
Israeli Prim Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, wasted no time in using this incident for political purposes. That night the Prime Minister promised to give settlers a home they had been trying to colonize. In his promise he stated, “We will continue on one hand to fight terror and to harm terrorists and on the other hand to strengthen settlements.”A friend of mine sarcastically added “…and with both feet kick the Palestinians out.” Now if I were there I may have reminded Mr. Netanyahu of the well known terrorist connections which many of Hebron’s Israeli settlers have, and ask if he had any hands to deal with those ‘terrorists’, but I wasn’t there, I wasn’t even in the country.
A few days later Israeli settlers were already demanding to be let into the building promised them. CPT has been keeping tabs on that building ever since settlers tried to move in there in 2012. It stands between two Palestinian elementary schools that CPT works closely with. There are always Palestinian kids hanging around that area. They play in the parking lot across from the settlers’ new house. The lot used to be a playground before it was bulldozed to be a parking lot for Israeli tourists who come on holidays like Sukkot. That whole area (a 2 minute walk from our apartment) is going to be a very scary place for Palestinian kids (if they are even going to be allowed in the area after settlers move in).
All the advocacy and legal work around that building was whipped away in one speech by the Israeli Prime Minister, who used one Palestinian’s heinous crime to destroy a whole community. This is not how democracies are supposed to work. This is also a clear example to me that violence is purely a tool of oppression, and is not useful in the hands of the oppressed. (And here’s science to back that statement up)
Pray that the situation calms in the coming days
Pray that there is no more bloodshed on either side
Pray that I can get back into Palestine (In a week I’ll be in Palestine or back in the States)
Pray for peace