I received this report from the Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron as a message from New Profile. As it was asked to spread the message (to which I agree), one of the ways of spreading information on the conditions of life in Occupied Palestine is posting it here.
For those of you who might not know it – besides Gaza, which has now reached “the next level” of horrendous living conditions – Hebron is known as the worst place in the Occupied Palestinian Territories…
Soldiers terrorize seven families in nighttime home raid
14 July 2008
At 1:30 a.m. on 10 July 2008, Israeli soldiers pulled up by a seven-apartment building in the Hawuz district of Hebron where members of the Amro, Abu Khalaf, Husseini and Butran families live. Through a loudspeaker, soldiers called out the names of men inside and ordered them to come out. The building’s owner, Samir Mohammad Amro, recognized the commander, who told him, “We need to look for weapons and we will turn this house upside down.” Soldiers then threw five sound bombs into the building, causing general panic among the seven families-including twenty-six children-and ransacked the apartments, saying they were looking for weapons. They flipped couches and chairs over and slashed the cushions with knives (but not in such a way that the gashes would have revealed hidden weapons.) After pulling framed verses from the Quran off the walls in all of the apartments, soldiers stepped on them, smashing the glass. The soldiers also brought dogs and produced a machine that dug through the sewers.
The military forced all the men in the building to stand outside and demanded they strip to their underwear, refusing to allow family members to bring blankets to cover the men. One man from the building told CPTers that the soldier pointing his rifle at him kept dropping off to sleep and he was afraid the soldier would accidentally pull the trigger. Soldiers beat one man, Ashraf Abu Khalef-who was already suffering from neck problems-into unconsciousness. When they left at 4:30 a.m., they took Abu Khalef into custody on a stretcher. Soldiers also stole Euros, Shekels and Jordanian Dinar from the families in an amount totaling about $1,000, as well as most of the families’ cellphones and computers.
One family member was visiting from Germany with her children. The mother told CPTers Tarek Abuata, Kathleen Kern and an American visitor that her fifteen and sixteen-year-old daughters had said, “We’ve only seen this in the movies.” One boy repeatedly soiled himself out of fear.
Despite the fact that almost no one among the families had slept that night, they served coffee, tea and juice to the CPTers, the American visitor and an Italian woman who came to document the invasion. The assembled people generally agreed they were still in shock-and that that was why they could behave calmly and crack jokes. Some of the discussion turned to places Palestinians could go in the world where they would not have to live with terrors such as midnight home invasions. “Find countries we can live in and we will go,” one man said, but then he added, “If we go to the moon, Israeli soldiers will follow us with their guns.
Video footage showing the aftermath of the invasion and interviews with family members is available here
Photos of the wreckage are available here
I have posted this report a first time on mepeace.org. I received to very interesting comments there, which I’d like to re-post here as well:
Comment by eileen fleming on July 15, 2008 at 3:18pm
In June 2005, I made my first and last trip to Hebron, the most painful place I have ever been.
My guide was Jerry Levin, who in the 1980’s had been CNN’s Mid East Bureau Chief in Lebanon and a secular Jew. Jerry was kidnapped and held hostage by the Hezbollah for nearly a year. Shortly after he experienced a mystical Christmas Eve, and escaped unharmed, he was never the same. He became a Christian and he and his wife, Dr. Sis, have devoted themselves ever since to seeking justice and peace in the Holy Land.
In 2005, Jerry was a full time volunteer with CPT/Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron when he told me, “Every time I get ready to return to Palestine, everyone asks me, ‘Aren’t you afraid?’ I reply, ‘Of what, the Palestinians? No way! But when it comes to the Israelis soldiers, you bet I am!'”
In 2005, Hebron contained 450 Israeli settlers/squatters/colonists and three thousand Israeli forces. The eighteen- to twenty-one-year-olds patrolled the streets with their weapons at the ready and turned us away at one of the many checkpoints. Jerry quipped, “Most of the soldiers don’t like the CPTs. Whenever they won’t let us through, we just go another way, and always, eventually, get where we want to go.”
I was nauseated the entire day for the oppression was visceral. The narrow, winding stone streets that for centuries had been trod by Palestinians were eerily empty in many areas except for the open air market street and another where apartment buildings were on one side Israeli, and the other Palestinian.
The only connection to the other side of the street was a thick deeply sagging netting strung over head. Huge rocks, shovels, electronic equipment, furniture, and all manner of debris had been flung upon it and I wondered if I would be underneath when it gave way.
Jerry told me, “It gets cleaned out about every year or so. Come back in a few months, and this netting will be much closer to your head. The settlers just throw whatever they want onto the netting; they do whatever they want and get away with it. The CPT’s run interference by nonviolent resistance; we get the children and woman to where they need to be going and back again. Sometimes, the settlers curse and stone us all; it keeps it interesting.”
We then walked to a desolate area and Jerry pointed out all the empty and formerly Palestinian homes that the settlers had painted graffiti and Stars of David on. It was a nightmare and reality when I saw spray painted on a now empty, but formerly Palestinian home, “GAS THE ARABS.”
I told Jerry Hebron was hell on earth and he replied, “You haven’t seen anything, until you see Gaza.”
And that was in 2005.
Comment by Hiba [wo lives in Hebron] on July 16, 2008 at 12:43pm
It is not a surprising thing for me to hear Alice, there are much more that happens, the situation of the Hebron city is a very special and exceptional one, since it has a religious value to both Muslims and Jews, after the massacre of 1993 when Baroch Goldshtain murdered a 29 prayers on the abraham mosque, many arguments and negotiations took place about this city, finally it was agreed to be divided into two parts H1 under the Israeli authorities and H2 under the Palestinian authorities, not just that the mosque also were divided into two parts one for Muslims and another for Jews, the mosque lies in the H1 part which is under the Israeli authorities and so close to the famous settlement of “Bet Romano”, where a few families of Jews lives there and making life really hard for Palestinians to live there, the H1 part is in a complete mess, Palestinian authorities can do nothing there and Israel authorities well, who cares! it provides military defenses for the settlers and back them up in what ever they do.
The old city of Hebron also in H1, and as it was a vital center of the city where most of the families of Hebron owns shops there, after the division the old market became empty as settlers didn’t save a chance to drive Palestinians to leave their shops and move to the other part of the city which is under the Palestinian authorities (H2).
The few shops which remained as their owners have no other place to move to and as they lived there for generations stayed, and to be able to avoid the daily annoying invasions by settlers a seige were made up the street to avoid as much scathe as they can.
The Palestinian families who lives in that part of the city “H1” are prevented from, many of their basic rights such as the freedom of movement in the area, and they live under so hard situation for a human to live under.