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Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Holy Land: CPT eyewitness report in wake of Beit Hanoun attack
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¬†Jerry Levin from the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron sends this account from Hebron in the West Bank, after yesterday's attack by Israeli army on a civilian area which left 18 dead and more than 40 injured ≠ most of them women and children. Hebron erupted in a large, spontaneous, and angry several hour's long demonstration yesterday. Its emphatic show of sympathy for the victims of an early morning Israeli military attack on the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun was one of the most dangerous and potentially violent occupation mass protest here in more than two years. At least 18 Palestinians including eleven members of one family, eight of them children, as well as four women died in the attacks on Beit Hanoun. As news about the tragedy circulated, shopkeepers began slamming shut the doors to their stores out of respect for the victims. Then shortly before noon an angry shouting crowd of mainly young men and women, many waving either the green flag of Hamas or the flag of Palestine marched through H1 (the Palestinian administered section of Hebron) to a large intersection in the Al-Manara district about a half-mile from H2 (the Israeli military controlled area of the city). After a high decibel rally, punctuated by pistol shots, about half the thousand onlookers set off for the Bab iZaweyya outdoor market area. They were led this time not by the young men or older youths, but by a band of adolescent boys some barely in their teens. At Bab iZaweyya, one flag waving teen-ager leading the way dashed up the street toward the Dubboya Street checkpoint. He was quickly followed by other boys who began throwing stones at the Israeli army caravan that blocks the way into H2. Soon about seventy yelling, screaming boys and young men were throwing stones, then rocks, then chunks of paving stone at the caravan. A lone soldier talking into a telephone could be seen monitoring the attack while peering at the crowd through the bullet proof window of the caravan. Meanwhile CPT observers on the roof of the CPT apartment could see a large contingent of soldiers massing inside the outpost on Shuhada Street that protects the Beit Romano and Beit Hadassah settlements. Back at the Dubboya Street checkpoint, two flaming tires propelled by yelling boys were rolled at the caravan. Neither reached it; but after about twenty minutes, a loud bang was heard and the first of the afternoon's equally furious fusillade of tear canisters was lobbed at the stone throwers. At least thirty tear gas canisters were fired during the next hour as soldiers moved out of H2 through the checkpoint and began inexorably forcing the protestors and bystanders back up streets leading to Al-Manara. Mission completed, most of the soldiers filed back through the checkpoint to Shuhada Street. However, a couple squads of soldiers stalked warily through the Old City ordering people off the streets and all shops closed, For a time, Palestinians trying to enter the souq were kept out. By four in the afternoon quiet and calm, at least on the surface, had been restored. However, an undercurrent of uncertainty and expectancy as to what may be next remains. Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, please visit: http://www.cpt.org. Photos of our projects may be viewed at: http://www.cpt.org/gallery. * Tomorrow, Thursday 9th November, peace groups including Pax Christi. The Amos Trust will be gathering from 5 to 7pm opposite Downing Street to call on the British Government to stop selling weapons to Israel.
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