AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Walking with the Palestinian Youth Independence Forum

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CPTnet
5 April 2013
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Walking with the Palestinian Youth
Independence Forum

Every Saturday, Israeli settlers come to Hebron for an Israeli
military-escorted tour of the Old City. Taking a page from the settlers’ book,
the Palestinian Youth Independence Forum (PYIF) decided several weeks ago to
organize Palestinian tours of areas in and around Hebron’s Old City not often
visited by those who live outside that ancient part of Hebron.

This Saturday,
organizers of the PYIF planned to lead a tour of the Tel Rumeida area –
purportedly where King David first established his kingdom and currently the
site of an illegal Israeli settlement – many sections of which, due to the
settlement, are off limits to Palestinians. The tour route would include a
visit to Cordoba School, a walk along Shuhada Street and then a bit of a hike
up through the Olive groves to the top of the Tel Rumeida hill.

The IDF had other ideas.
Cordoba School would be allowed, but not the walk on Shuhada Street, except
for the forty or so yards between Checkpoint 56 and the school. The hike up
through the olive groves was out. They would have to walk up a nearby street.
Once on top of the hill, the Palestinians would be allowed a brief time in a
small section of one olive grove. And, if the tour did not take place within
the Israeli military-dictated time lines or if any of the sixty or so
participants caused any problems, the PYIF leaders would be arrested and their
IDs confiscated. The leaders agreed to accept those restrictions but, concerned
with the very real possibility that the tour group might be attacked by
settlers, asked representatives of international human rights organizations to
walk with the tour.

Palestinians and
internationals met at Checkpoint 56 and proceeded peacefully and without
interruption through the checkpoint, on to Cordoba School, up the street to the
top of Tel Rumeida and into an olive grove there. After presentations at
several points along the route, the tour concluded with participants sharing
thoughts as they sat outside the home of one of Tel Rumeida’s Palestinian
residents.

The PYIF tour was well
organized and the commitment to resisting the occupation nonviolently was
affirmed at every stop along the way, including in interactions with Israeli
border police and soldiers.

Although someone (a
provocateur or a local supporter of violence) on the other side of Checkpoint
56 decided to toss a Molotov cocktail at the checkpoint container cabin, no one
from the PYIF group joined that individual and the tour participants continued
to demonstrate the growing Palestinian commitment to nonviolent resistance.

The quiet strength, sense of caring and sumud
(steadfast perseverance) shown by these young Palestinian men and women bodes
well for the success of the Saturday tours they will be leading in the weeks to
come.

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