Christian Peacemaker Teams
Palestinians in the West Bank city of al-Khalil, also known as Hebron, particularly the H2 area, suffer immensely due to the presence of Israeli settlers and the Israeli military in the middle of the Old City. Along with violence from settlers and soldiers, as well as restrictions to movement through the use of military checkpoints and other means, Palestinian residents of the city experience countless injustices in everyday life. Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is actively working for justice by monitoring human rights and accompanying these citizens in this desperate situation. Here’s what you need to know and what you can do so that together we can rise up.
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) has been a presence in al-Khalil at the invitation of the local mayor and community since 1995. It is a faith-based organization that supports Palestinian-led nonviolent grassroots resistance to the Israeli military occupation and the unjust structures that uphold it. By collaborating with local Palestinian and Israeli peacemakers and educating people in our home countries, we help to create a space for justice and peace.
CPT encourages you to learn about the issue, then call the Israeli embassy or diplomatic mission in your country and ask them why Israel allows such harmful and discriminatory policies against Palestinians in Hebron. Remind them that all people should be free and live in peace, including Palestinians, not just Israelis.
Follow-up your phone call with both an email and a written letter to the embassy or diplomatic mission. Addresses and contact information can be found at http://embassies.gov.il/Pages/IsraeliMissionsAroundTheWorld.aspx.
You can find Christian Peacemaker Teams on their website at http://www.cptpalestine.com. Or find it on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/cptpalestine/, Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/cptpalestine, and YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/CPTHebron.
Permanent checkpoints, temporary checkpoints, roadblocks, and other physical obstructions are all used by the State of Israel to restrict Palestinians’ freedom of movement and to ensure that it maintains control over the West Bank. In al-Khalil there are in excess of 100 physical obturations, such as the checkpoints and roadblocks located within the Old City of al-Khalil. 22 of these are permanent checkpoints. In the last 12 months, three have been fortified and a further three have been built. Two of these were built in the closed military zone in the Palestinian neighbourhood of Tel Rumeida. All military checkpoints are staffed by armed Israeli Border Police or soldiers. Some of these military checkpoints are closed at 10pm and not reopened until 6am the next morning, completely preventing movement in these areas at night. It is not uncommon for checkpoints to be closed without prior notice, forcing Palestinians to take longer routes or completely closing off areas to Palestinians for unspecified lengths of time.
CPT constantly monitors the Israeli military checkpoints (Qitoun, Salaymeh, and al-Ein Humrah) each school morning as children and teachers pass through. Due to the fortification of the checkpoints it is difficult to see what happens inside, but CPT knows that school bags, women’s handbags, IDs, and body checks take place on a frequent basis. These checkpoints are in violation of the right to education as stated in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Every Friday, CPT monitors the three military checkpoints situated outside the Ibrahimi mosque as people walk through for prayers. The same checks as listed above occur at these checkpoints each Friday. These restrictions, along with the daily abuse and intimidation that accompany them, are in violation of Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”
Palestinians must use these checkpoints to move between their homes, workplace, schools, and places of worship. At these checkpoints, Palestinians face humiliating treatment by Israeli border police and soldiers, including delays, body searches, bag searches, ID checks, detainments, and arrests.
Closures, ID checks, and body searches regularly impede Palestinians as they travel to and from work. Not only are people denied or delayed, but checkpoints make it difficult or impossible to transport tools and work materials throughout different areas of occupied al-Khalil. This also slows or prevents repairs and the building of infrastructure and limits access to necessary materials and resources. The constant presence of Israeli soldiers and the harassment at checkpoints deters people from traveling to the Old City, thus slowing the sale of goods, limiting the need for services, and causing continual economic decline. All this violates the right to work enshrined in international law.
Hassan, School Principal
Hassan, the principal of the Ibrahimi Basic Boys school in al-Khalil, shared with CPT how checkpoints and the constant presence of Israeli military affects education. Every morning Hassan and a few teachers stand outside Qitoun checkpoint to make sure the students get through safely:
“The Israeli border police, they all know us. However, they still check me and the teachers each day. One time when I was walking through the checkpoint a border police officer ordered for my ID. I said ‘You know me. I pass here everyday. You know I am the principal.’”
Despite working as the principal of Ibrahimi school for the last four years, crossing the same checkpoints every day, Hassan is still ordered to show his ID, empty his pockets, remove his belt, and sometimes his shoes. His staff and teachers at the school face the same issues. All of this happens in front of the students:
“Firstly, I have told them (border police) before that if they close the turnstiles at the checkpoints, it could create problems. Secondly, I’ve asked them if these children were their brothers or sisters, would they feel okay delaying the children on their way to school?
“I tell the students to not even bring geometric equipment to school, because the soldiers don’t allow them through the checkpoint, and if they have them in their bags, it’ll cause big problems. These are important equipment for students and their learning, but they are unable to have them.
“Another issue is that the students who are tall for their age are often asked to show their ID, even though they are only 13 or 14 years old and don’t yet have IDs (IDs are given to every Palestinian at 16 years old). This causes problems when these students try to get to school and border police don’t believe they are younger than 16.
“When school finishes each day we divide students into three groups and escort them in the direction of their homes. We do this to make sure they get home safely, past the checkpoints, settlers, and border police.
“We really care about the safety of our students, but we face many obstacles and difficulties.
“Numerous times settlers have followed students as they are coming to school. We are unable to bring many supplies to the school. And when we do, students have to carry supplies through the checkpoint. If we ever need furniture or large items for school, they need to be brought through the checkpoints. Everything has to be carried from far away because we are not allowed to drive near the checkpoint or school. Why can’t we bring a car through the checkpoint with our school supplies?
“The parents of the children are too afraid to come to the school. They are too afraid to visit and see the children in their educational environment because of the checkpoints, the Israeli border police, and the settlers. Last Monday, the Israeli border police claimed that some of my students threw stones at Qitoun checkpoint. I told them you can search the school and you will not find one stone. The border police did not find any stones, only a pile of left over rubble from workmen drilling. The border police threatened and said they will come into the school and arrest any child who throws a stone.
“This is my fourth year as the principal at this school. My students don’t throw stones.”
Is your local community supporting the occupation with your tax dollars? A major supplier of tear gas, and possibly other equipment, used in the occupation is Combined Systems. They have a long history with Israel, as documented in this 2011 article from The Electronic Intifada: https://electronicintifada.net/content/tell-combined-systems-inc-stop-selling-tear-gas-israel/1094, up to 2018: https://mobile.twitter.com/steketeh/status/997922653817262083. In addition to contributing to the terror of the occupation, the long-term effects of tear gas exposure are unknown (see the recent research report from University of California Berkeley School of Law’s Human Rights Center at https://www.law.berkeley.edu/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/NoSafeSpace_full_report22Dec2017.pdf).
Send a letter to your local police chief or sheriff asking, “Does your department purchase from Combined Systems (https://www.combinedsystems.com) or any other companies that profit from the Israeli occupation? Please cancel any contracts with these companies and refuse to do business with them in the future. I love my safe community and police officers, but I don’t want to support the Israeli occupation.”
While it is good to send these messages directly to your police and sheriff departments, we can amplify the scrutiny of local law enforcement agencies by also making these messages public, tweeting your questions to them and posting these questions to their Facebook pages. Remember to tag your local agencies and include a link to this page of the Kumi Now website along with the hashtags #KumiNow and #Kumi7.
When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
From Matthew 5:1-12 (New Revised Standard Version)
- Incident Report by Christian Peacemakers Teams, December 2017: www.cptpalestine.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/FIINAL-INCIDENT-REPORT-2017.pdf
- “Israeli Checkpoints in the Occupied Territories” from MIFTAH: www.miftah.org/Display.cfm?DocId=14429&CategoryId=4
- ‘A Palestinian’s Daily Commute Through an Israeli Checkpoint” from The Washington Post – May 25, 2017: https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/world/occupied/checkpoint/?utm_term=.507834800a26
- “Coffee in Palestine – Checkpoints: The Stranglehold on Palestine” from PressTV: https://youtu.be/a-eGg5defJU
- “Al Jazeera World: Hard Crossings” from Al Jazeera English: https://youtu.be/jYcJSiq4_N4
- “Ramadan at an Israeli Military Checkpoint” from The Electronic Intifada: https://youtu.be/3PEle6eW-QE
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