The Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron released this incident report for the period between December 17 and December 31, 2009.
December 17, 2009
Shortly after morning worship, the team’s neighbor told them that soldiers were on the roof of the apartment building. When Herbert, Schroeder, and Shiffer filmed them and asked why they kept coming up to the roof, they did not respond. Kern brought up tea and cookies, but none of the soldiers accepted this hospitality.
The team decided next time the soldiers came up to the roof again, they would videotape themselves singing “Joy to the World” there for a digital Christmas greeting. When soldiers did not subsequently appear, the team decided to record a digital greeting anyway.
December 18, 2009
After consulting with their neighbor, team members decided to keep the stairwell door locked through the morning in case the soldiers arrived again. A lawyer from the Association of Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) told the team that legally, the soldiers have no right to enter the house without a warrant.
December 19, 2009
In the afternoon, Schroeder, Kern, Shiffer and a member of EAPPI went to al-Bweireh with Hani Abu Haikel, a member of the team’s advisory committee. They continued to interview families regarding the affect of the Hill 18 (26) settler outpost on the neighbourhood students returning from school. One mother said that the thing she would like most to change is the opening of the main road into al-Bweireh, currently blocked in three locations. She also said that international accompaniment of children walking home will help bring peace of mind.
December 20, 2009
Shiffer and Schroeder went to al-Bweireh to accompany the children coming from school. Boys from the Za’atari family told Shiffer and Schroeder that on 17 December settlers had attacked them. The youngest boy had visible scrapes on his face and hand.
December 21, 2009
Schroeder and Funk monitored school patrol from outside and inside the Ibrahimi Mosque Checkpoint. At 7:25 a.m., and Israeli policeman approached Funk and asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Keeping an eye on school children on their way to school.”
“You have no right to stand there, only TIPH can legally stand there.”
“We have been here for years and it has never been a problem.”
“You have no right to be watching soldiers.”
“We do not interfere with the soldiers. We were invited to be here by the municipality.”
“You have no right to be here.”
“I believe we do, but I will respect your wishes today.”
“Bring a paper next time to show you have the right to be here.”
In the afternoon, Kern, Herbert, and Schroeder went to al-Bweireh to accompany the children and to interview the mother of a child who had been attacked by the settlers the previous week on Wednesday. A member of the team’s Advisory Committee drove the team there and translated for them. From the interview they learned the following:
The seven-year-old was with a brother and cousin when the settlers attacked. As they ran toward a nearby house, he tripped and fell, which caused the wound on his face and hand. His brother ran back to pick him up and carry him to safety. The injured boy is especially afraid of settlers, so much so that he sits beside his brother in 7th grade for an hour-and-a-half after his own school dismisses, rather than walk home without him. A settler on horseback tried to snatch up his younger sister a few weeks ago, and the house is attacked two to three times a week. The settlers who chased the boys on 17 December could have been anywhere from sixteen to twenty years old. They had a dog with them. The police refused to allow Mr. Za’atari make the complaint the next day without the seven-year-old present and then asked the boy, when he arrived, if he had taken pictures of the settlers.
December 22, 2009
Schroeder and Funk visited Tel Rumeida this morning. While they were at Hani and Reema Abu Haikel’s house, Reema stood watch by the doorway in case settlers or soldiers caused trouble for men they had hired to prune grapes and do other yard work. After about ten minutes, Reema alerted Funk and Schroeder that soldiers were in the yard and had ordered the workers to go home. When asked why, the lead soldier said: “This is neither Arab or Jewish land. When people clean the land, the next thing is they begin to build for the land in question.” The Abu Haikels hold clear legal title to the land from the time of the Ottoman Empire.
December 24, 2009
During morning school patrol, team members received Christmas greetings from a number of Palestinians who passed them while they were monitoring checkpoints. After the patrol, the team packed up special foods they had prepared and traveled to At-Tuwani to celebrate Christmas with CPTers there. The taxi driver who drove them back to Hebron from At-Tuwani, in honor of the holiday, tuned to a radio station that played only “Jingle Bells” over and over.
December 25, 2009
The team went to St. Catherine’s Church in Bethlehem for the Christmas morning service. People from six different continents were worshipping there. One of the priests had the task of preventing photojournalists from trampling the worshipers.
December 26, 2009
At about 12:00 p.m., the team heard soldiers walking up to CPT’s apartment roof. Herbert and Shiffer asked the unit commander for a warrant, his name, and the name of the individual who ordered the roof occupation. The commander failed to show a warrant or offer the necessary information. Two members of TIPH International arrived ten minutes later, and within a few minutes of their arrival, the soldiers left the roof.
Kern, Schroeder, and Hani Abu Haikel went out to visit al-Bweireh families. At the entrance to the neighborhood, a man said settlers had been stoning houses at 2:00 a.m. Friday morning. One house that received the worst stoning belonged to a family whom the team had known in 1995-96 and who had since moved to Jerusalem. A neighbor called the police in Kiryat Arba, who did not come. Then he called the owner in Jerusalem, who called the police in Jerusalem, who called the police in Kiryat Arba and told them to come to the house.
At a house directly across from the Givat Ha Harsina settlement house, a woman told them that settlers threw stones daily and about twice a week at night–usually after midnight. The children in the household are not allowed to play in the yard, because of the constant stoning.
She said they leave the gate open so that children coming home from school can run to safety in their yard when the settlers start stoning them, but that settlers then stone their house even more.
In the taxi on way home, a man had several sacks of firewood. Abu Haikel said wood fires are called called “the fruit of winter” in Arabic.
December 27, 2009
At al-Bweireh, Herbert videotaped a brief interaction between a settler boy and older male settlers. During their discussion they passed a knife back and forth.
In the evening, the team got a call from their neighbor, saying that she had heard shots fired and heard that settlers had beaten someone at the Qitoun checkpoint. [See the 5 January 2009 release here.]
December 28, 2009
Kern and Funk went out for school patrol in al-Bweireh a little later in the afternoon than usual. (The team had decided to stagger the times they went out to the neighborhood so that settlers would not anticipate their presence.) At the top of the road that descends into al-Bweireh, they saw three of the older girls running toward their home in the distance and then spotted a settler who was the cause of their flight. They learned that earlier in the day, a settler had chased one of the boys, who fell off a stone wall trying to escape, and then aimed a pistol at the boy.
Later in the afternoon, while Kern was checking in with Hani Abu Haikel, he said in an urgent manner that he had to go because he heard yelling at the checkpoint. Herbert, Shiffer, and Schroeder rushed to the scene, and found Abu Haikel, who said that soldiers had stopped his cousin and told him to stand up against the wall. Abu Haikel told them the soldiers had been targeting his family. On another night, the Abu Haikel family had a party and the military arrested several people who attended and sent his uncle to the police station where he was detained for several days.
December 31, 2009
Around 9:00 a.m., a local human rights activist called to report that the Israeli military was demolishing buildings in al-Bweireh. Kern and an EAPPI arrived in time to document the military loading a small Bobcat bulldozer onto a truck after demolishing a barn, dovecote and garage (See the 13 January CPTnet release here.)
The Christian Peacemaker Team is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT’s peacemaking work, visit cpt.org