Thursday, January 10, 2008

Muslim Feast Day Marred by Israelli Military Restrictions

(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.

For photos

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