Hebron: baby killed, settlers and army retaliate

 The Christian Peacekeepers Team working with refugees in Israel, have issued a statement strongly condemning the shooting on Tuesday of a ten month old Israeli baby by a Palestinian gunman. Dianne Roe writes from Hebron: "The child, Shalhevet Pass, was killed in her father's arms by a gunman who fired from the Palestinian neighbourhood of Abu Sneineh into the Avraham Avinu settler enclave at 4.30 yesterday afternoon. The Avraham Avinu enclave is a fortified military post from which the Israeli military been firing into the Abu Sneineh neighbourhood during the past six months of the intifada. After the murder of the child, CPT members watched from their rooftop as the IDF retaliated by bombarding houses in Abu Sneineh with shells and machine gunfire. The heavy shelling continued until 6pm. During that time, armed settlers also ransacked the Palestinian market next to Avrahim Avinu after shop keepers closed up and curfew was imposed. At about 9:30 in the evening settlers then attempted to enter the Palestinian-controlled Abu Sneineh area, but the Israeli soldiers and police contained them. "I think it is horrible that someone would shoot at a child," said Nisreen Abu Mayaleh, a friend of the team who lives in the Abu Sneineh neighbourhood. At 5 am this morning Abu Mayaleh called CPT to inform them that settlers had indeed made it into the neighbourhood, and were approaching her house. Rick Polhamus then observed from the team's roof settlers returning from Abu Sneineh and firing back into it. More recently today a trusted Israeli source told the team that Sharon has given the army permission to demolish homes in Abu Sneineh. It is with deep sadness that we note that the infant Shavalhet spent more than half of her ten months in a war zone. We wish she could have grown up in peace to meet Rami, a child from the neighbourhood of Hart Isheik whose bedroom was bombed last November when he was ten months old. We pray for an end to all killing. We deplore the punishment that the Israeli settlers and Israeli military have imposed on a whole neighbourhood, due to one gunman's actions. We join in asking for a UN sponsored International Protection Force (unarmed) to save both Israeli and Palestinian children. Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative among Mennonite and Church of the Brethren congregations and Friends Meetings that supports violence reduction efforts around the world.

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