A late-night call from a Palestinian on Thursday 6 April alerted the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron to the latest seizure by Israeli settlers of an empty Palestinian apartment building just outside the old market area. A crowd of settlers between Shuhada Street and the Avraham Avinu settlement was preventing him from reaching his home nearby. CPTers Art Arbour and David Janzen responded to his appeal and tried to join him, but the Israeli ilitary had closed the gates from the market. They returned to the CPT apartment and telephoned him. He eventually managed to reach home without assistance. Next morning Janzen, accompanied by David Corcoran, John Lynes and Paul Rehm, visited his family to discover their situation. Settlers had occupied an apartment building facing their home. The apartment building is owned by a Palestinian who now lives in the Palestinian-controlled area of Hebron. It has been empty for over three years. Israeli settlers claim to have purchased the building, but they had to use a sledgehammer and crowbar to get in. The army's Civil Administration is checking their claim. In the past such claims have sometimes been fraudulent, but this can be hard to prove straightaway. The Palestinian family, living in a small apartment rented from the Waqf (an Islamic foundation), now finds itself sandwiched between the new Israeli occupiers and the existing Avraham Avinu settlement. To enter or leave their home they must run a gauntlet between soldiers and hostile settlers. They are particularly anxious about sending their youngest son out to school. The Christian Peacemakers promised to look out for him at 7.15 each morning on 'school patrol'. Israeli soldiers are now stationed on the roof of the family's home. They watch as the settlers bring furniture and rig electric cables from Avraham Avinu. Will this incursion be one more link joining the settlements in the Old City of Hebron to the much larger settlement of Kiryat Arba? Or could it be a desperate move by Israeli settlers who fear that their days in Hebron are already numbered? Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, see: http:www.cpt.org.
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