by Jessica Frederick
What are summer days like in the South Hebron Hills? It depends.
On a good day, we CPTers sit with Palestinian shepherds as they nonviolently resist the occupation of their land. The shepherds graze sheep on lands where Israeli settlers have attacked, stoned, shot at, and threatened them. We listen to the shepherds tell us stories of life on the land before the Israeli occupation. We laugh together, and the shepherds teach us how to flick tiny pebbles between our two index fingers.
On a bad day, Israeli settlers come and throw stones or attack and hurt the shepherds, sometimes inflicting injuries that require hospitalization.
On a good day, we accompany Palestinian children grazing their sheep. The children climb up fig trees and throw us the delicious fruit. We join their family for a fabulous lunch of bread, eggs, and olive oil, followed by juicy slices of watermelon. We share jokes and have lessons in Arabic, English, and Italian.
On a bad day, the Israeli military issues demolition orders on their homes and cisterns.
On a good day, we talk late into the night with our Palestinian friends, laughing with the funniest women in At-Tuwani, and listening to ways in which the village is organizing its nonviolent resistance.
On a bad day, the Israeli military builds a roadblock on the main road to Yatta, the nearest city in the area – a crucial thoroughfare for medical services, education, and water aid in a year of severe drought.
On a good day, the Palestinian villagers work together to remove the roadblock.
These days blur together; they are often sweet and bitter at the same time. Yet, on good days, I renew my belief that children and stories, love and watermelon, courage and nonviolence, will eventually triumph over military and propaganda, hate and weapons, cowardice and violence.
On good days, I am amazed and inspired by the strength and devotion to nonviolent resistance of the Palestinian villagers here in the South Hebron Hills. And everyday, I know that, no matter what happens, the Palestinian people are more powerful than the Israeli occupation.