7 February 2013
PALESTINE REFLECTION: A night in Firing Zone 918
by Jonathan Brenneman
I recently returned to Palestine
for my second stint with CPT. I most looked forward to visiting Firing Zone 918 in the
South Hebron Hills, because I have become friends with the family that hosts CPT
there. During my talks in the States I noticed I always spoke most passionately
while telling their story. I found out upon arrival that they had often asked
when I would be returning. Recent
news that soldiers had been encamped right outside their village added to
So although the weather was
terrible, another CPTer and I trekked through Masafer Yatta to the village of
Jinba to visit the family. After some warm hellos, and some time by the warm
wood stove we chatted about the military presence outside the village. The
Israeli military had left a few days ago, but came back often for ‘training’, I
was told. Eventually, after a nice meal and playing with the kids, it was bedtime.
The family went to another room, they turned the generator off, and the two
CPTers hit the sack.
No more than five minutes after
head touched pillow we heard gunfire. The military was doing night training.
Both of us got up and looked out the window. We couldn’t see anything in the
dark, but the gunfire was a good distance away. Every once in a while tracers
would fly across the sky, and shooting would pick up, but after about fifteen minutes
the gunfire stopped and we went back to bed. Two hours later we were awakened
by a flair, followed by another round of shooting, but the shooting was far enough
away that after our long trek that day, we both quickly fell back to sleep.
Another two hours later we were awakened by an explosion. This was different. It
sounded close, and it was loud. We jumped out of bed and looked around, but it was
past 1:00 a.m. and we couldn’t make out anything. The
explosion seemed like a one-time thing, hopefully.
We laid back down, but for me
there was no chance of falling back asleep. Paranoia had sunk in. Now every
sound (and the night wind made many) worried me. Were soldiers moving toward
the house? (They had entered homes in another village a few nights before.) Was
that tap on the roof a misguided explosive?
As I lay wide awake I thought
about my friends in the next room. They have to deal with this every night. How
do any of them ever sleep — especially the parents? I don’t have to worry
about my children’s safety. I don’t have to comfort a crying baby awakened by
an explosion. I don’t have to wake up for school the next day. I don’t have to
feel this fear every night. I realized, lying there, that my friends were some
of the bravest people I’d ever met. And I am honored for the opportunity to
walk beside them in their struggle.
CPT Youtube video on Masafer Yatta published 2 December 2012