HEBRON UPDATE: 17-30 December 2007

12 January 2007
HEBRON UPDATE: 17-30 December 2007

Monday 17 December
During a late afternoon patrol, Lorne Friesen and Delycia Feustel encountered eight soldiers patrolling the Old City. The captain introduced himself, asking what organization they were with. When the CPTers asked what the soldiers were doing, he said he was orienting new soldiers to the area.

At the beginning of dusk patrol, Friesen called Donna Hicks to report that soldiers were patrolling near the CPT apartment, but heading away. The men at the barbershop around the corner said soldiers had been on the CPT roof. Friesen said the half of the street door usually kept locked was open when he left to go on patrol.

Tuesday 18 December
On a mid-afternoon patrol, Feustel and Hicks noted that the border police were running ID checks on some of the Palestinian men at the checkpoint near the Occupied House, an apartment building in a Palestinian neighborhood on the road to Kiryat Arba which Israeli settlers say they have purchased. The police asked Feustel and Hicks for their passports before they could move through the checkpoint.

Wednesday 19 December
Benvie and Hicks went out at 6:15 a.m. as the Palestinian community headed towards the Ibrahimi Mosque for the first prayers of Eid al Adha. They were joined by the rest of the team as the Israeli military and police restricted movement of Palestinians to the mosque for prayers. (See 20 December 2007 CPTnet release, “HEBRON: Muslim feast day marred by Israeli military restrictions.”)

At the Cave of Machpelah, Jewish worshippers were praying outside at the eastern wall, because the complex is closed to the Jewish community for the first day of the Eid al Adha.

Thursday 20 December
Around noon at the mosque gate, Benvie and Feustel observed a crowd waiting to pass through the turnstiles. The border police were allowing people through only one at a time. Benvie and Feustel walked out of the Old City through the Bab il Khan (Gates 4/5) and walked towards the mosque. When they got there, the border police were holding around twenty young Palestinian men, but appeared to be giving back some IDs. At the Yatta Road checkpoint, Israeli soldiers were searching everyone coming into the Israeli controlled sector, H2, through the container checkpoint, causing a small crowd to form. They also observed Israeli border police carrying out a body search on a Palestinian man at the checkpoint at the bottom of Haret iJaber (called “Worshippers’ Way” by the settlers.)

When Benvie and Hicks went to mosque checkpoint at 4:40 p.m., a small crowd waited as a border police officer opened the large metal gate. No lights were on in the tunnel area where the turnstiles and metal detector are located. The border police were allowing one person to pass through at a time. One family twenty minutes to move through the turnstiles.

Friday 21 December
Benvie and Hicks went on patrol around 11:15 a.m. to the mosque gate, where the turnstile was locked, and a queue backed up to the first archway in the Old City. The CPTers turned around and went out the Bab ilKhan. At the mosque gate, people seemed to be moving through in a steady flow, although men had had to remove their belts and go back and forth through the metal detector. At the checkpoint across from the Gutnick Center, border police stopped many men for ID checks, holding the IDs while letting them move on to the Ibrahimi Mosque for prayers. Several times, they pulled a barrier across the walk, stopping movement for a time. At both the checkpoint across from the Gutnick Center and the mosque gate, border police held Palestinian men’s IDs while they were in the mosque. They did not return them when the men came out. About thirty people were waiting at the Gutnick Center checkpoint and at least fifty near the mosque gate. They did not get all their IDs returned until 1:05 p.m.

Around 3:00 p.m. at the mosque gate, Kathie Uhler and Feustel observed a group of about ten soldiers pretending to be injured while others treated them. The Bab iBaledeyye (Beit Romano checkpoint) was blocked by a military jeep and soldiers were stopping anyone from moving through. A soldier told Feustel they were “practicing for an incident.” Pedestrians were delayed for about five minutes.

Tuesday 25 December
On Mosque patrol, Johann Funk observed that border police were ordering veiled women to show their faces and all women to remove their belts. While searching one bag, a border police officer ordered the Palestinian to open a snack pack. As the officer examined the contents, he flung some at the Palestinian and waved him away. As the Palestinian left, the soldier finished the snack to the laughter of his companions.

Wednesday 26 December
At noon, Funk and Feustel went on patrol to the Ibrahimi Mosque and Yatta Road checkpoints. Soldiers allowed only one person at a time through both turnstiles and metal detector. One man was delayed for an hour and a half before being taken up the road next to the mosque by border police.

Thursday 27 December

At the mosque during morning school patrol, Uhler counted twenty-two boys’ bags searched and thirteen unsearched. When she confronted the border police about searching children’s bags, he said, “I saw a fifteen-inch knife in a six-year-old’s bag.” Uhler said she didn’t think a six-year-old boy would use the knife on a soldier, to which the soldier said, “Lady, it’s security.” A teacher told Uhler that the border police at the mosque were searching and humiliating teachers. One of the teachers commented angrily to Hicks, “They are shaming us in front of our students.” A border police officer told the headmaster of the Ibrahimiyye School and Uhler to move away from the checkpoint. “You are interfering in my doing my work,” he said.

Hicks took a group on an extended walking tour of Hebron. In the parking lot of the Gutnick Center, below the Ibrahimi Mosque, a civilian police officer hailed the group and asked if anyone spoke Hebrew. When he learned no one did, he switched to English. He asked where the group was from. Hicks replied that she lived in the Old City and the others were international visitors. The police officer said that the settlements were off-limits to the group. Hicks pointed out that CPT is not a favorite of the settlers. Because the officer seemed unfamiliar with CPT, Hicks asked how long he had been in Hebron. He replied, “Six years. I know CPT is nonviolent.”

Friday 28 December
Feustel, Funk and Uhler went to the Jabari action where eight internationals joined the family in raking the fields. Palestinians served tea to two Israeli soldiers who sat a few feet above the raking. At 11:45 a.m., an adult male settler with a toddler and a dog on a leash entered the plowed field just below the action. The police were quick to intercept him and moved him away.

Returning via the mosque gate, Feustel, Uhler and Funk witnessed a border police officer who verbally abused and detained two young men by having them stand in the corner with their arms raised. A group of older Palestinian women refused to move when ordered to do so by border police.

Uhler, accompanied by a team translator, visited a Palestinian merchant in his home to follow up on the status of the closure of his shop at the Bab ib IBaledeyye. The shop backs up to the Beit Romano yeshiva and was closed by the Israeli military for security reasons. The closure has been extended to 1 May 2008.

Benvie and Hicks attended the Twentieth anniversary commemoration of Women in Black at Paris Square in West Jerusalem. The square was full of women, men, and children, Palestinians, Israelis, and internationals, calling for an end to the Occupation.

Around 2:00 p.m., as Hicks and Benvie were leaving the vigil, Hicks received a telephone call from a colleague in Hebron reporting he had heard that Israelis had been killed near Hebron. When the two got to Bethlehem, there were no Hebron service taxis parked at the stand, although one or two drove up as they waited. When they got to the Halhul Bridge, they saw an Israeli armored personnel carrier parked there and a military jeep blocking the entrance ramp to the westbound lane of bypass route 35. When they arrive at the CPT office, they learned that Palestinians had allegedly shot and killed two Israelis west of Hebron. Around 7:00 p.m., the team got a phone call from a colleague at Al Ahli Hospital, in H1 on the western side of the city. He said Israeli soldiers had invaded the hospital about forty minutes before and were letting no one enter or leave. (See 30 December 2007 CPTnet release, “HEBRON: Israeli army, in search of injured gunmen, lays siege to Hebron

On their return from the hospital, Benvie, Hicks and two colleagues, saw a patrol of six soldiers come out of the Beit Romano gate and drop into defensive positions, with guns pointing in different directions. The soldiers briefly stopped two Palestinian men before continuing their patrol.

Saturday 29 December
While on morning patrol in the Old City, Benvie and Hicks met a man who told them that soldiers had gone up on his roof and cut his satellite connection and possibly his power line. Hicks suggested he file a complaint with TIPH (Temporary International Presence Hebron).

Around noon, Benvie and Hicks met with Zleekha Muhtaseb. Muhtaseb called the man who had stopped the CPTers on the street that morning. He said for the last two Saturdays, soldiers have gone up on his roof from around 6:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m. They cut the satellite line one week but only disconnected it the next. He feared filing a complaint with TIPH would cause his family more trouble.

While on patrol around 3:45 p.m., Benvie, Funk, and Feustel followed a settler tour of twenty-six Israelis accompanied by soldiers through the Old City. Near the entrance to the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba, a Jewish man in civilian clothes confronted the team members about their work and told them he was a soldier. He followed the team until soldiers near the occupied house intervened. When the CPTers arrived at the mosque checkpoint at 5:15 p.m., the border police were detaining four men. When Benvie asked the men how long they had been there, a border police officer ordered the CPTers to leave. “You are interfering with my work,” he told Benvie. He then threatened to lock the gate. An Israeli civilian police officer also came forward and told the CPTers to move away from the area. Benvie asked him if it was legal for the border police to lock the gate if CPT were standing there. The police officer said it was legal because they would be closing it for safety reasons. The CPTers crossed the road and waited until the four Palestinians were released five minutes later.

Sunday 30 December
Uhler visited families in the Wadi Ghroos, staying overnight from Saturday, to learn what had come of a request to the mayor of Hebron to run a larger water pipe into the Wadi. The municipality has installed the larger pipe.

Uhler also met with the principal of a girls’ school after accompanying girls from the family there. The principal said, “I am very afraid to go to the Old City Hebron. I have not been there or in the Ibrahimi Mosque in thirty years.”