HEBRON UPDATE: 3-16 December 2007

22 December 2007
HEBRON UPDATE: 3-16 December 2007

Team members during the period included Delycia Feustel, Jessica Frederick,
Lorne Friesen, Donna Hicks, Jonathan Stucky and Kathie Uhler.

Monday 3 December

At the mosque gate, border police had locked down the first turnstile,
letting one person through the metal detector at a time, making them go back
and take off belts, take out money and mobile phones, until they did not set
the metal detector off. These restrictions made the teachers late for
school. The headmaster of Ibrahimiyye School told Donna Hicks, "Every day!
This happens every day!"

A group of Palestinian boys lingered near the shop on the edge of the Old
City between the mosque gate and the Gutnick Center checkpoint. They chased
a young Palestinian man back towards the mosque. One of the boys used his
belt, which he had not put back on, to lash out at the young man. The young
man came over to Hicks and said, "These are bad boys!" The border police
took no action.

Hicks met with a group of U.S. Presbyterians to tell them about CPT's work.
While waiting for the group outside the Ibrahimi Mosque, the border police
detained their guide, a Palestinian Christian from Bethlehem. He got his ID
back when the group came out of the mosque. He said the border police
officer commented, "Oh, a Christian from Bethlehem. You think you are so
special." He commented to Hicks, "This is normal for you, I guess."

Zleekha Muhtaseb, a neighbor and team translator, told the team that an
Israeli court, in a plea arrangement, had sentenced her nephew to twenty-two
months in prison and a 4000 shekel fine. He has been in prison for sixteen
months already and will get credit for time served. His family had been
able to see him only during his court appearances.

Tuesday 4 December

During morning school patrol, a civilian police officer approached Frederick
and asked if she spoke Arabic. She replied, "Very little." The officer
asked her name, where she was from, and if she was going to take pictures.
She said, "I will take pictures if something bad is happening. Otherwise,
if everything is good, I will not." She said, "Maybe everything is good."
The civilian police officer insisted, "Everything is good here," to which
she responded, "Everything is good? Praise God!" The police officer told
her, "Don't make trouble." While Frederick stood near the mosque gate,
another police officer called, "Picture me! Picture me!"

Thursday 6 December

Hicks was delayed briefly at the Bab il Khan by the soldier on duty, who
explained that only the woman who lived in the Waqf Building could go in and
out of the gate. Hicks explained that CPT walked that way every day. When
Hicks greeted a male Israeli settler coming out the gate from the settlement
enclave Avraham Avinu, he spat towards her.

At the Yatta Road checkpoint, the soldier on duty offered Hicks a cup of
peach juice, which she thanked him for, but declined. While Frederick stood
at the checkpoint, a soldier offered her peach juice, as well. He asked if
she was from TIPH (Temporary International Presence Hebron) and where she
was from. Frederick commented, "It must be awful to be in the army." The
soldier replied, "You don't know how right you are." Frederick asked him if
he ever considered refusing to serve in the occupied Palestinian
territories. He explained that all of Israel belonged to the Jews, and that
it was a religious duty and an act of his faith to serve in the army and
defend [his country]. Frederick asked him about the stories in the Hebrew
Bible, in which God tells the Israelites to put down their weapons and allow
God to fight for them.

Frederick and a team translator met with Palestinian census takers to
determine if CPT could accompany them near the checkpoints and Israeli
settlement enclaves. One of the workers explained that sometimes soldiers
or police stop them at checkpoints and beat them, that the police search
their bags and accuse them of carrying a knife.

While at the mosque gate during school patrol, Friesen asked a civilian
police officer about celebrating Chanukah. A border police officer
interrupted and said, "Chanukah isn't religious. It is just a time for
family gatherings." A border police commander interrupted the conversation
and ordered Friesen to stand at a distance. Later when Friesen went to say
goodbye to the civilian police officer, the commander ordered him to leave.

While grocery shopping, Friesen noticed six Israeli soldiers walking among
the vegetable vendors at the Bab iBaledeyya. They took one man aside
because he had a small knife. The man said he used the knife to prepare the
vegetables for display. The soldiers released him quickly.

Friday 7 December

Frederick, Friesen, Hicks, Stucky and other internationals accompanied the
Jabari family as they sowed barley by hand and then plowed it into the
fields with horses and plows. The presence of Israeli soldiers and police
insured that settlers did not interrupt the work.

Later, a Palestinian family invited Friesen and Stucky to join a birthday
celebration in their home near the house between Hebron and Kiryat Arba that
settlers are occupying. This family once owned land in Wadi Ghroos, which
was confiscated for an Israeli settlement. A family member said that the
best grapes in the Arab world come from Hebron, and their land in Wadi
Ghroos produced the best grapes in Hebron.

Saturday 8 December

Frederick, Friesen, Hicks, and Stucky and a team translator accompanied
census takers through the Old City and in the area above the Ibrahimi
Mosque. The workers feared harassment from Israeli soldiers, police, and
settlers because they were conducting the census on the Jewish Sabbath.

While in Bethlehem in the afternoon, Hicks learned that the merchants around
Manger Square are seeing very little tourist trade. One said that Bethlehem
merchants can no longer take packages out through the checkpoints to mail or
ship them from Jerusalem but will have to take them to Tarqumia, south and
west of Bethlehem, and process them through the checkpoint there.

Monday 10 December

During afternoon patrol, the soldier at the Yatta Road checkpoint walked up
to Jessica Frederick and Donna Hicks and asked Hicks