Red hats to red jackets

Years ago, CPT accompanied the family and home of a Palestine team member who today accompanies members of his community living under occupation.
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cpter in red jacket facing away from the camera in a dried yellow agricultural field

When I was 16 years old my family inherited a piece of land from my grandfather. My family felt joy as they started building their dream home. But the land we inherited is located near one of the biggest Israeli settlements, east of al-Khalil (Hebron).

When my family started construction of our small house, I remember how happy we were that we could finally live together, with dignity. However, during the construction process, our dream did not last long when unexpected visitors from the Israeli authorities approached the construction site. They handed my father a ‘stop construction order,’ claiming that the construction was illegally built and must be stopped or demolished, like hundreds of other Palestinians houses that faced the same destiny due to the State policy.

I asked my parents about this demolition order and they said in a deep, sad tone that we will not be able to continue building the family home we dreamed of, as it might be demolished at any moment. My parents worked so hard and saved money to reach this moment, but could not risk the legal and economic consequences of continuing. I remember looking at my father’s eyes as his tears fell onto the demolition order, soaking the paper. My mother cried and asked, “why?” and “where should we go? we don’t have money.” I also started crying and began to collect our belongings in case they came to demolish the house.

Winter was approaching and we needed to secure the house, but the Israeli authorities returned and handed over another demolition warning. We spent the first winter in difficult conditions, with almost no windows and doors. The authority returned regularly to check on any changes and to count who and how many of us were living in the house. 

Then the Israeli settlers started coming to the house daily, attacking us verbally and physically. On the first few days we were alone, until some foreigners with red hats came and introduced themselves as CPT. We welcomed them and were so pleased that people had come to support and stand with us. That moment was very special to the entire family.

“On the first few days we were alone, until some foreigners with red hats came and introduced themselves as CPT. We welcomed them and were so pleased that people had come to support and stand with us.”

The settlers continued attacking us for almost forty days and the CPT team remained in our house the whole period – they spent the nights in our home and did not leave us at all. We shared food together, our bedrooms, Ramadan special moments, and a fire that we made in front of the house – we became one family.

One night, a settler approached the house with an axe in hand, he tried to attack my father and my mother intervened to prevent the attack. The settler contacted the police who came to arrest my mother, but my father would not allow the police to arrest her and instead the police arrested him. The CPT team remained close to the family in the absence of my father, protecting us.

On another night, settlers came and vandalized our agricultural farm planted with olives, grapes, almonds, and other seasonal crops. My family, together with CPT, re-planted the crops and other trees. A CPTer called Art Gish helped us closely and told my father that cultivating and planting is the best sign of life and hope. I will never forget the other CPTers at that time who were present in our house – Peggie Gish (Art’s wife), Dayyan, Pierre who is currently a member of the CPT Colombia team, as well as many others.

I experienced CPT’s enormous support, kindness and empowerment of my family. Because of them, we have remained in our home, although conditions are hard and we face threats every day. We learned how to live, love, hope, resist, adapt, trust and believe. I learned how to be a human being and started supporting people in my community by volunteering in local institutions, until I myself become a family member of CPT. 

My first day with CPT was so special, emotional, and hard. I went to accompany children to school, protecting them from the ongoing clashes and possible attacks from Israeli soldiers. It was a challenging period for me and I questioned myself – how can I protect the students? I realized that my role enables me to empower students and their families. I need to continue and we need all to continue, because there are people who count on our presence. 

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