9 February 2014
PALESTINE: August 2013-January 2014: A turbulent semester for H-2 schools in Hebron
The most routine part of CPT Palestine’s
work in Hebron is the monitoring of checkpoints through which students and
teachers must walk to get to schools. For years, they have been stationed
at the Qitoun checkpoint/Checkpoint 209*, which stands between boys walking
from the H-1 area to il-Ibrahimi school and girls walking to al-Faiha school as
well as their teachers. This semester, after daily clashes began erupting
at four other H-2 schools near the Salameh checkpoint/Checkpoint 29, CPTers
(when they had enough people to do so) began monitoring Checkpoint 29 in the
early morning and when school let out.
Students in the H-2 schools missed a large
number of school days in the past semester because of a teacher’s strike and
Winter Storm Alexa. On 5, 10, 19, and 22 September the gate to the
Old City was closed, so children living in the Old City had to find an
alternative route to school or they just didn’t attend. When a soldier
was killed on 23 September during clashes, schools were also cancelled.
Treatment of children and teachers by
members of the Border Police varied. Most often, they did not search
their bags, but one day, 25 November, they searched thirty-three schoolchildren’s
bags—which was probably related to clashes of the previous day. Sometimes
Border Police were offensive to teachers, asking for IDs, even though they knew
they were teachers, having checked their IDs the day before, asking one if she
carried a knife in her purse or summoning them by addressing them as “boy.”
But the most serious incidents for
organizations providing international accompaniment—because they affected the
physical safety of children—were the clashes. Clashes typically began
when boys began to throw stones at Border Police and Border Police responded
with stun grenades and tear gas. Clashes happened over the Jewish
holidays when the military moved the checkpoints to control larger areas.
Particularly at Checkpoint 29, they increased in number throughout
October-December. On 26 December, when boys threw stones at checkpoint
209, a badly aimed tear gas grenade from the Border Police went through the
window of the el-Karaky family home and caused a house fire, destroying
Members of the Nahal Brigade currently
stationed in Hebron and Border Police at times have tried to lecture CPTers and
teachers about stopping the boys from throwing stones, but as one exasperated
mother who was trying to get her children across the street near Checkpoint 29
noted, “If the soldiers were not here, the boys would not throw stones.”
CPT Palestine works in cooperation with the
Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) and the
International Solidarity Movement (ISM) to provide accompaniment for the
children and teachers in all of the H-2 schools.
*TIPH, an international monitoring group in Hebron sanctioned by both
the Palestinian and Israeli governments, has assigned each checkpoint a number.
CPTers need to use the numbers when calling TIPH for assistance.