9 July 2012
AL-KHALIL REFLECTION: A New Day in Palestine
An eight-year-old Palestinian child nears the Al Sahla
checkpoint just below the Ibrahimi Mosque in Al Khalil. Twenty meters to go,
she slows her pace, pulls her younger brother close to her side, placing her
body between the soldiers and the boy. With one of her eyes on the soldiers and
one on her brother they squeeze through the gate together and run home with
their daily allotment from the soup kitchen in hand. What have we done? Why do
the soldiers watch us? What will we be accused of? What are we guilty of that
we are watched, checked, searched?
“My son is in prison,” says the Palestinian father to our
CPT team. He continues, “My son, this one’s son also, and his too, and another
whose father is also in prison. Over six months and they are still in prison,”
the father states. We sit in solidarity with the families. One of the sons, now
on hunger strike for twelve days, seeks his release that the Palestinian courts
have already issued, yet with no results, so these families gather to wait, to
hope, to pray and to bring awareness to the injustice suffered by Palestinian
I* can’t help but wonder when this prison sentence truly
began. Was it six months ago? Was it the day the judge slammed the gavel and
declared, “guilty as charged”? Or, I wonder, was it perhaps that day on the
street when his big sister reached out, pulling him close trying to protect him
from the intimidating glare of the soldier, the accusing stare that suggests
with the power of self-declared superiority a verdict of guilty. Was that the
day the sentence was handed down, a day before any act was committed, any act
besides being Palestinian, any act besides being Arab, any act besides being
something other than what the occupier is?
As long as there is an occupying force, “my son is in
prison,” is a statement that every Palestinian parent in the West Bank can make
with legitimacy. It
is a sentence handed down without trial, without defense, a sentence based on
racism, ugly prejudice, and a desire to separate, eliminate and castigate
based on injustice and self-declared superiority.
The sun rises in the east. It is a new day in Palestine. An
eight-year-old Palestinian child nears the checkpoint. She slows her pace,
draws her sibling close, trying to protect him from the verdict of the
self-declared superiority of the occupier. It’s a new day, but not the day we
await, not the day we hope for, not the day we pray for and not the new day we
work for. An eight-year-old Palestinian child nears the checkpoi… —wait— … the
place where the checkpoint used to be. Could it be… a new
day in Palestine?
*The author is a member of CPT Al-Khalil (Hebron).