24 May 2010
AL KHALIL/HEBRON UPDATE: 17-30 April 2010
On team during this period were Tarek Abuata (Palestine Project co-coordinator), Fathiyeh Gainey (Intern), Christina Gibb (visiting CPTer), Alwyn Knight, Paul Rehm, Sandra Milena Rincón and Paulette Schroeder.
A new battalion of Israeli military Nahal—took up duties in Hebron. Many of the soldiers have undertaken a year of community service before their national service, which noticeably affects their interactions with the Palestinian community.
Palestinians and internationals are experiencing growing concerns about the implications of the new Military Order 1650, effective from 13 April 2010. The Israeli authorities have deported one nineteen-year-old Hebron man to Gaza, and many Hebronites who do not have the necessary permanent residency papers now fear deportation.
Acts of Palestinian resistance
On Saturday 24 April, about fifty Palestinians, internationals, and Israeli activists took part in the first of a series of ‘Open Shuhada Street’ protests. The protestors met in front of the Beit Romano settlement. Part of their purpose was to frustrate, and if possible, prevent, the Israeli settler tour of the Old City, which happens every Saturday afternoon.
The protest was entirely peaceful, but after the protest, Israeli soldiers and police followed Palestinians and Israeli activists into the Old City, where they arrested one Israeli and the Palestinian leader of Youth Against Settlements. Later, when a large crowd of protestors again gathered in front of the Beit Romano Settlement, the Israelis peace activists sat down, and one of their numbers was arrested. The police released the Israelis a few hours later. The Palestinian remained in the Ofer military prison near Ramallah until Tuesday 27 April.
CPTers followed the tour, and challenged the Israelis on the tour to learn about another story of Hebron, describing the period when Jews and Arabs lived together as neighbours.
(Most of the people who take part in the tours are visitors to the Hebron settlements. On Jewish festival days, there may be a number of tours, with up to fifty people taking part in each tour. Fifteen armed Israeli soldiers accompany the tour, and in some of the narrower parts of the Old City, they prevent Palestinians from passing until the tour moves on. The main intention of the tour guides appears to be to point out features which suggest a former Jewish presence in the Old City.)
Contact with the military
Consistent with the comments above, CPTers have had a number of conversations with soldiers. Some soldiers have expressed the opinion that the Occupation must end—in the interests of Israel as well as Palestine. Some have even managed to carry out their duties with good humour. Notwithstanding the less aggressive attitudes of many in this battalion, young Palestinian men still have their IDs inspected on a regular basis; squads of soldiers still walk into peoples’ houses, and the Border Police (a branch of the military) often stop and detain teachers on their way to school via the Mosque checkpoint, even though the same teachers use the same checkpoints every day. Soldiers singled out one young teacher, who has to pass through three checkpoints to and from his work, saying they would check his ID each time he went through, so CPTers plan to accompany him when possible.