1 March 2015
AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): CPTers arrested while accompanying Palestinian kindergarteners in Hebron
On Sunday Israeli Border Police arrested two CPT members while they were walking Palestinian children from kindergarten just after noon. The CPTers were taken to the police station near the Ibrahimi Mosque, then moved to a police station in the Givat Ha’avot settlement, and finally released at 5:20 p.m. Israeli police did not press formal charges.
For several weeks, members of CPT Palestine have accompanied children from the Al Saraya Kindergarten, who face harassment from Israeli Border Police, Israeli soldiers, and settlers during their walk to and from school every day. Part of their walk to school is on a road that the Israeli military has declared partially off-limits to Palestinians, including young children. Since CPT began accompanying the kindergarten students, border police have stopped the children several times and told them that they may not walk on the street for security reasons, but have allowed them to pass on other occasions.
Yesterday afternoon, border police stopped two CPTers and checked their IDs as they were walking up the closed road, but allowed them to continue up to the kindergarten. When the CPTers returned with some of the kindergarten students, the border police stopped them again and asked for their IDs. CPTers handed over their IDs and once the soldiers returned them, they proceeded down the Palestinian path. The border police then radioed down to the two border police officers at the bottom of the road and ordered the CPTers’ detention. After two hours, border police then took the CPTers to the nearby police station.
“Originally when we were detained, we were told that we were being detained because we had attacked the soldier and that formal charges would be pressed but are delayed at the moment because they wanted to a lot time for the border police to file their complaint,” said one of the CPTers. “When we started to challenge that charge, they then asserted different charges. And when it became clear to them they didn’t have enough evidence that they could formally process us, they decided simply to put notes on our records as being ‘problems’— explaining to us that ‘If you cause the police a problem, you will leave the country.’ I wasn’t even afforded the opportunity to explain my side of the events.”
Just after 5:00 p.m., the police released the two CPTers. On their way home Border Police prevented them from they from walking through the checkpoint beside the Ibrahimi Mosque, and they had to take a taxi back to the CPT apartment in the Old City. Israeli military personnel prevented other CPTers and internationals returning from the police station from walking down any part of the road near the kindergarten. Additionally, many more soldiers were walking the streets of the Old City.
It is not clear if these recent provocations are a part of a larger ramping up of the occupation of the West Bank. Its not clear what will happen in the upcoming days, either for CPT or for the children of the Al Saraya Kindergarten. Please pray for everyone in the Old City of Hebron who is affected by this continual and increasing violence.