Hebron: Israeli army, in search of injured gunmen, lays siege to Hebron hospital
30 December, 2007
In a shooting incident near Hebron on the afternoon of Friday 28 December, two Palestinian gunmen and two armed off-duty Israeli soldiers were killed in a gun battle. The shooting took place in an area under Palestinian control, near the village of Beit Kahil. The two Israelis soldiers lived in Kiryat Arba, the Israeli settlement on the outskirts of Hebron. Local media outlets reported that one or two injured Palestinians escaped.
At around 7:00 p.m. that evening Christian Peacemaker Teams in Hebron received a telephone call informing them that the Israeli military, searching for the injured Palestinians, were occupying the al-Ahli hospital in the H1 area of Hebron – the area officially under the control of the Palestinian Authority. The caller, a senior nurse at the hospital, told CPT that the military was searching the hospital and preventing patients or visitors from entering or leaving the hospital.
When CPTers arrived in the area at around 8:00 p.m., the Israeli military prevented them from reaching the hospital. Shortly after 8:15 p.m. the CPTers witnessed a large military convoy leaving the hospital grounds. They counted at least six armoured personnel carriers and 10 military jeeps, leaving the hospital grounds.
The CPTers then made their way to the hospital. Hospital personnel told them that during the blockade the Israeli military refused entry to the hospital to a Palestinian Red Crescent ambulance transporting a patient. Israeli soldiers also threatened human rights workers who tried to facilitate entry to the hospital for the patient. Hospital staff reported that no equipment had been damaged and that no-one had been injured, but that the hospitals ability to function had been severely impaired during the two hour siege. Patients and visitors reported that the Israeli military had taken their IDs and not returned them. The Israeli military did not find any wounded Palestinians at the hospital
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Reprinted from Christian Peacemaker Teams with permission
Reprinted from Christian Peacemaker Teams with permission
At-Tuwani: The Birth of Jesus and the occupation of Palestine
25 December, 2007
by Art Gish
It was a beautiful, warm, sunny Christmas day in the mountains of Palestine in the South Hebron Hills. My Christian Peacemaker Teammate and I spent the morning with an At-Tuwani villager and his children plowing and sowing wheat with two donkeys. There were flocks of sheep on the hills around us, an ideal setting for thinking about the birth of Jesus.
We were there to protect the people from possible attacks from the occupiers, from the people with guns, from those who wield worldly power. We were standing with the shepherds, with the dispossessed, people like those to whom the angels announced good news 2,000 years ago.
We were working in a narrow valley just below the village of Sarura, which the villagers abandoned in 1999 because of repeated attacks on the village from Israeli settlers. Since Sarura originally was a Roman village, I thought of the Roman occupiers at the time of Jesus. The Roman caves are still there, as are the ruins of Roman houses. The Romans are long gone. The family we were accompanying lived in that village before settler violence forced them to leave. The father showed us the cave he used to live in and a Roman coin he found there.
What has changed since the Roman occupation of Palestine? In spite of God’s revelation in Jesus, people still rely on violence and oppression, still reject the promise of peace on earth as a gift from God. People still seek to dominate and control. The donkeys were given a break and a snack of the wheat they were helping plant. We broke bread and drank tea together and experienced a bit of God’s peace in the midst of conflict over land and resources.
(Christian Peacemaker Teams has recently given me permission to repost some of their reports and reflections. So I will be sharing these occasionally here and cross-posted at related blogs)
Muslim feast day marred by Israeli military restrictions
Thursday 20 December 2007
On Wednesday 19 December, the Israeli military obstructed the way to the Ibrahimi Mosque, in Hebron’s Old City, for over one hundred Muslim worshippers. Wednesday was the first day of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha, when Muslims around the world attend morning prayers at their local mosques.
At 6:30 a.m. CPTers Janet Benvie and Donna Hicks observed a small, but growing, crowd of people waiting to pass through the checkpoint that leads to and from the Old City, beside the Ibrahimi Mosque. The Israeli border police on duty were allowing only two or three people through the turnstile checkpoint at a time, causing the backlog.
While Hicks stayed to monitor the checkpoint, Benvie walked back through the Old City where a patrol of Israeli soldiers were stopping and searching Palestinians on their way to the mosque. The soldiers stopped and searched young men and boys, some as young as 14 years of age.
By 6:45 a.m. the streets of Hebron’s Old City were filled with families trying to make their way to the mosque. The crowd waiting to go through the checkpoint swelled at times to thirty or more people waiting at any one time, amongst them young children and elderly worshippers. Those waiting became increasingly restive and angry, but there were no incidents of violence.
CPTers Delycia Feustel and Kathie Uhler monitored the other entrance to the Old City, Bab ib Baledeyya, where the Israeli army, armed with light machine guns, were also stopping young Palestinian men and detaining them for a short time at the Beit Romano checkpoint.
Around 7:00 a.m. the Israeli border police allowed the waiting crowd to pass freely through the checkpoint, enabling people to finally make their way to prayers in the mosque. The soldiers at the Bab ib Baledeyya left the area and Palestinians were able to freely enter the Old City.
However, the delays and movement restrictions continued when the morning prayer ended. Israeli border police detained around 50 Palestinian men outside the Ibrahimi Mosque for over 20 minutes after prayers. The Israeli army prevented worshippers from returning to their parked vehicles in the area above the Hebron Rehabilitation Committee office. CPTer Lorne Friesen attempted to go the area but was stopped by an Israeli soldier who told him that there was “a suspicious object “. At around 7:45 a.m. there was a controlled explosion and the Israeli army left the area, allowing the Palestinians to make their way home.