HEBRON: Dinner at Tel Rumeida

1 October 2007
HEBRON: Dinner at Tel Rumeida

[Note: Mary Rose, a visitor from New Zealand who spent time with the Hebron
team last month, wrote the following story on 9 September 2007. It has been
edited for length. The original piece is available at

Yesterday Dianne came home and said "Damien is going tomorrow. Issa has
invited us to a barbecue at his and Heba's house on Tel Rumeida. We will
take food." Issa? Heba? Damien? I know none of those people. I do know
about Tel Rumeida, for it is the hill where John led me yesterday to show me
the site of the original walled City of Hebron, the one mentioned in Genesis
23. He showed me the well that was there before the time of Abraham and
excavations of the original wall of Hebron, which was there when Abraham
bought land for his family graves from the Hittites. What a wonderful place
to meet for dinner!

High on Tel Rumeida, we could see out over Hebron. Issa's two-storied stone
house is tidy on the outside, has protective steel shutters on the lower
windows, gratings on the upper ones, sturdy doors. A tall wire fence,
draped with razor wire, surrounds the small block of land.

A couple of doors on blocks made tables for our dinner, chairs and piles of
blocks topped with striped rugs, the seats. Damien, Irish, well travelled
in the work of International Solidarity Movement (ISM) knows Kathy Kelly, a
woman Christina and I met in Amman on our way here. More ISM people arrived
with more bowls of food. Hani, whose house is nearby arrived and so did
Issa and Fawaz.

Dinner began with a circle of silence. "'Tis a thing most hard to find in
life" said Damien. Into the silence, we drew the names of people whose
lives and homes are at risk in the struggle for justice. Tributes were paid
to Damien and the work he'd done as a co-coordinator for ISM during his
short stay in Hebron. As dark fell and the lights of Hebron lit the near
view, military flares played around the hills surrounding the city. The
eating was good: the talk passionate. Issa told the story of his struggle to
reclaim this house, a traditional family home, from soldiers and the
settlers who had occupied it, about endless court hearings, lawyers,
struggles, and abuse on the ground. Now, at last, the Israeli high court
has recognized the validity of his lease.

Issa has a dream. There, in the yard of his house on Tel Rumeida, site of
the ancient City of Hebron, he spoke of his dream to turn the upper floor of
the house into a centre where people from all over the world can come to
learn ways of non-violence. This would be the fulfillment of his passion
for non-violent solutions. "Gaza is an example," he said. "Violence has
freed them from the occupier, but the violence has remained in the

When the talking and the eating were done, it was quite dark. Starlight, a
few small torches and solicitous care for each other got us safely down the
dark, rocky track to Shuhada Street.