AT-TUWANI REFLECTION: Standing in the cold rain

2 January 2007

AT-TUWANI REFLECTION: Standing in the cold rain

Our Christian Peacemaker Team in At-Tuwani, a village south of Hebron, got a
call last week saying there was trouble at the La Safer checkpoint, and that
a man would come and pick us up and take us there. Three of us went with
him. We did not know what to expect when we got there. All we understood
was that we should walk up to the checkpoint at the Green Line.

It didn't take us long to figure things out. We immediately saw about
thirty Palestinian men standing behind a razor wire enclosure. An icy wind
was blowing hard at the top of the hill. Thankfully for all of us, the rain
had temporarily stopped. I walked up to the men and greeted them. They
said they had been standing there in the cold and rain for five hours,
waiting to have their IDs returned.

My other two teammates, John Funk and Allan Slater, talked to the soldiers
who said these men were coming back home from working illegally in Israel.
The soldiers were making the men stand in the cold rain for three hours to
punish them for their illegal activity. "This is how we control the
situation," the soldier said. The soldier did not mention that
extrajudicial punishment is illegal, or that mistreating people causes
resentment and anger.

The soldier did not say that Israel needs these "illegals" to do their dirty
work for low wages in the same way American businesses need "illegal"
Mexicans to do their dirty work at low wages while both the Israeli and
American governments look the other way. The only difference here is that
the Israeli military can impose additional punishment by making Palestinian
laborers stand in the cold rain for three to five hours.

Soon after we arrived, the soldiers began returning the men's IDs and let
them head toward cars waiting to take them home. In ten to fifteen minutes,
all of them were released.

We walked back to the small Palestinian village of Beit Yatir, sleet
stinging our faces as we walked.