Hebron diary: Can you feel their anger?

 It was 5.00pm Thursday afternoon when I received a frantic phone call from Jowdy Jabber. Settlers were once again in his brother Atta's home, in the Beqa'a valley, east of Hebron. The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) forced Atta to leave his home several weeks ago after a settler attack, and declared it a closed military zone. Soldiers are stationed there full time to keep settlers and Atta's family away. After Jowdy's call, we immediately called the Hebron police and learned the IDF had granted the settlers a one hour permit to hold a Hanukkah prayer service. Pierre Shantz and I immediately left to for the Jabber home. When we arrived, there were fires and candles burning all around the home and the settlers were dispersing. As we watched from the porch of Atta's father's home stones the size of softballs began crashing to the ground around us. The settlers were stoning the house from a 30 foot wall behind us. Ducking into the house for cover we called the Hebron police again to tell them of the attack and request assistance. We were told to go out and talk to the police across the street who are supervising the Hanukkah service. "That's not possible, we're under attack," we replied. Once the voice on the other end of the line decided that yes, it probably wasn't wise to leave the house, he dispatched police who stopped the stoning and came to the house to talk with the family. The police assured us they were there to protect everyone, including Palestinians, offering their quick response as evidence of their protection. "What did you do with the settlers who were stoning?" we asked. They were told to go home. (What happens to Palestinians who throw stones? They are shot.) "Why don't you make that 30 foot wall a closed military zone and keep settlers away?" We can't do that. They throw stones from there and attack this family every time there is violence against Israelis anywhere. This family is vocal about non-violence in the community and work closely with Israeli peace groups. "Why would the settlers even want to hold a service there if they didn't plan on claiming it? Why did you allow a prayer service at Atta's home if you don't plan to let them? You call this protection?" What if you were asking these questions about your home? Can you feel their anger? The following morning on my way home I passed through a group of small boys, probably from eight to twelve years old. They looked mischievous. They possessed the smirk of just having done something they shouldn't have. The look that causes adults to be wary and look around for its cause. Looking down the road I saw two soldiers, then eight more came running up. Ten heavily armed soldiers facing a group of unarmed boys. How would you feel if your local police responded to your children with lethal force? Can you feel their anger? Later that day I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch. There was a clash between heavily armed Israeli youth (Israeli soldiers) and Palestinian youth armed with stones (Palestinian soldiers) in the street I was walking on, so I walked around it. But I got tear gassed anyway because the wind was blowing my direction. Cautiously looking down the street through my stinging and watering eyes, slinking across like some kind of fugitive walking across the town square as close to the buildings as possible thinking about getting shot, the absurdity of the whole thing struck me. What if you had to do this just to go to lunch? Can you feel their anger? This is a military occupation at the hand of a self-proclaimed democracy, justified and supported by many other democracies around the world. These nations consistently turn a blind eye while the indigenous civilian population is brutalised, not only by the occupying military force but also by the occupiers civilian population who confiscate the land they are colonising. This is a place where the civilian population is collectively punished in retaliation for resistance. This is a place where the occupying army seeks out and assassinates resistance leaders; where the occupiers who have guns and bombs are called soldiers and considered legitimate around the world, while those who resist with guns and bombs are considered criminal terrorists by the international community. Can you feel their anger? 2 January, 2001 On the evening of 7 December , the phone line to the CPT Hebron apartment stopped working. Friends of the team called PalTel repeatedly, explaining that CPT could not get out its human rights reports if the phone line was not fixed. A few days later, the team found out that their line, along with more than 1,100 others in Hebron's Old City had been cut by settlers. Because of the curfew imposed by the Israeli military on the Old City, PalTel workers were not able to work on these cut lines. Team members walking past the men working on the lines across from the settlement of Avraham Avinu observed a huge snarl of wires in the metal box, and understood the immensity of the repair job. Some of you may be getting very old mail from us. Thank you for your patience.

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