PALESTINE REFLECTION: Three stories of throwing

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CPTnet

17 July 2017

PALESTINE REFLECTION: Three
stories of throwing

by Kathy Moorhead Thiessen

In
March 2017, I spent 10 days in Hebron and observed three throwing situations
that showed a microcosm of the occupation in that Palestinian city. Hebron, a
major city in the southern West Bank, is where some 800 Jewish settlers,
protected by hundreds of Israeli soldiers, have moved into the old city, among
the Palestinian population.

I was
there with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) a faith-based organization that has
teams in Colombia, Iraqi Kurdistan, Canada and Hebron, Palestine. The Palestine
team, which began in 1995, supports Palestinian-led, nonviolent, grassroots
resistance to the Israeli occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it.
Some of their activities are documenting the treatment of school children
passing through military checkpoints and of Palestinians going to Friday
prayers at Ibrahimi Mosque. CPT team members also attend to calls from
Palestinian families who are harassed by Israeli settlers.

Shuhada
Street in Hebron, once a vibrant market road that is now forbidden to all
Palestinians, was the route for a parade marking the Jewish festival of Purim.
Israeli settlers were welcome to walk there. Music, laughter, costumes and much
wine added to the celebration, as they commemorated the courage of Queen Esther
and the buffoonery of the evil Haman.

Israeli soldiers are arresting a Palestinian boy

Photo: Israeli Border Police detains a Palestinian boy who threw a stone at the reinforced checkpoint.

Palestinians
did not have a holiday, so CPT continued their practice of observing the
heavily fortified checkpoints as the students went to school, always vulnerable
to searches of their bodies and backpacks.

To
show their resistance, two boys advanced near the checkpoint, waiting for the
moment to throw a small rock at the cement structure surrounded by a fence.
Just as the stones left their hands, three soldiers hiding in the alley ran out
and apprehended one of them whose hands got caught in nearby razor wire. This
15-year-old was beaten on the head and handcuffed and taken into custody for
several days.

A
while later at the CPT house, six soldiers tromped up the stairs onto our roof
and stood overlooking Shuhada Street for six hours. When we confronted them,
one justified their presence by explaining, “Yesterday, a [Palestinian] boy
threw an orange.”

Later
that evening, we received a phone call from a Palestinian family that lives at
the end of a narrow alley at the top of some stone stairs. Their settler
neighbours had used the celebration as an excuse to again send them a
“message.” Their frequent harassment aims to make the Palestinian family leave,
so their home can be taken as part of the settlement. As we drew closer to the
alley, we heard the sharp sound of breaking glass.

The
crunch of broken wine bottles under our feet increased our vigilance as we
climbed the stairs to the tiny apartment. The four little boys welcomed us
enthusiastically, telling us in Arabic what had been happening. Their parents
hoped that our presence would calm the hostility, or at least, we would be able
to document what was happening. However, our presence and the photos we took
caused the bottles to increase in frequency and force until they reached the
doorway. We all found protection in the house, drinking tea and eating savoury
pastries made by the women over a hotplate in the bedroom.

Eventually,
the Israeli soldiers arrived. They made no arrests of settlers for this
deliberate show of force; however, the party did relent at least for that day.

A
small stone at a fortified building leads to severe punishment. The orange
thrower, if caught, would probably receive the same. However, settlers throwing
many bottle projectiles at a vulnerable family had a mild reprimand. This is
the reality of the occupation in Hebron.

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