Holy Land: peace worker reflects on autumn in Hebron

 By Abigail Ozanne from the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron I listen to the sparrows chirping outside the window and imagine my backyard in Minnesota, the leaves turning red and yellow, the apples ripening, falling, the rusty coloured chrysanthemums enduring the ever cooler mornings. A deep peace fills me, momentarily driving out the tension of living in an occupied land. For a moment I am five thousand miles away. A plane roars over my head and I remember that it is not flying passengers to the Minneapolis airport, but possibly heading on a mission to bomb Gaza. I hear cars on the road and know that they are Israelis driving down an Israelis-only road in the centre of Hebron. I hear the call to prayer from the mosque and wonder if the people going to pray will be detained and searched before they are allowed to enter the Old City to worship. I look out the window, barred to keep rocks from breaking it, and see the barbed wire of a military installation crowning the building opposite. I sigh and return to my work. I am not enjoying the crisp days of a Midwestern autumn. The days here are still hot. The season is Ramadan and Succoth. The signs of the season are not the turning of the leaves but the closing of gates, the appearance of x-ray machines on the road to Friday prayers, large flocks of Jewish tourists parading in the streets. For me it is a season of sorrow at the oppression of innocents. Later I will walk the streets and witness young men being detained for hours. I will hear soldiers spewing hate toward "Arabs." I will listen to the stories of families whose homes have been invaded, their possessions thrown about, their men beaten or imprisoned. I breathe air heavy with the weight of injustice. The sparrows call outside the window. I remember that I am here, in Palestine, in Al Khalil, living under occupation. Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, see: www.cpt.org

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