Bob Palmer (July delegation)
During our CPT delegation Rashid* took us on a
tour of the al-‘Arub Refugee Camp near Hebron. Then he brought us to
his home outside the camp for lunch and a visit with his wife Nibaal
and their four kids.
After sharing a home-cooked meal, we gathered
in the living room for dessert, coffee and more conversation.
Ten-year-old Tarek invited me outside for a game of hide and seek
with his seven-year old sister, Nowal, which brought laughter all
Our visit was much like one I might have with
new neighbors in Chicago, but the stories Rashid and Nibaal shared
were specific to a life under military occupation: about the extended
process to satisfy the Israeli government that his family had long
owned the land on which he wanted to build a house, so the property
would not be given to Israeli settlers, who make up an increasing
number of his neighbors; about the denial of a building permit, once
ownership was resolved; and about being forced to build illegally,
subjecting the home to demolition at any time. The Israeli
government has destroyed 18,000 Palestinian homes since 1967.
Like most Palestinians in the West Bank, this
family may not travel to Jerusalem or outside the West Bank without a
special permit. To reach their house, they must take a much longer
route than Israeli citizens, because the occupation has closed many
West Bank roads to Palestinians.
Nibaal told us about taking Nowal to the
hospital one night. On the way home, soldiers made the family get
out of their cab and walk with Nowal in their arms, because they had
closed the road to Palestinians. Ironically, an Israeli family
eventually picked up the family as they struggled along the dark
road, eventually driving them home. Israelis and Palestinians will
have to undertake similar boundary-crossing risks in the future to
obtain for everyone the right to freedom of movement and residence
within the borders of their state, as well as the other basic human
*Names have been changed.