Here are some resources to use when talking about peacemaking work in Hebron Palestine.
Hebron is the largest city in the West Bank, Palestine (population about 250 000). The West Bank is the area of Greater Palestine that received large numbers of the refugees (approx 700 000) in 1948 that fled from Greater Palestine when it was invaded and when over 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed by Zionist terrorist militia (following years of European Jewish immigration since the Balfour Declaration (promising the Jews a ‘homeland’ in Palestine) in 1917).
The West Bank was the area of Greater Palestine that the Zionists (people who wanted to create a Jewish State or ‘homeland’, taking advantage of the British Balfour declaration, in 1917, that Jews could found a homeland in Palestine), did not invade in 1948 but decided to leave under Jordanian control, at least until 1967 when Israel invaded and began its military occupation and settler colonisation, and demolitions, land theft, annexation of the (fertile) Jordan valley, uprooting olive groves, destroying water wells, displacing Bedouin, and creating a segregated network of roads and facilities for Jewish settlers. All of which amounts to the forced displacement, or transfer, of the indigenous population, under a military occupation, a process illegal under international law and which amounts to ethnic cleansing or incremental genocide.
Hebron contains the mosque over what is thought to be Abraham’s tomb, an important religious site for Jews and Muslims. Hebron had been home to Jewish Arabs in the late 19th century, but following confrontations over access to the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, aggravations due to the influx of European Jews, and difficulties due to loss of land, there were riots in Jerusalem, Safed, and Hebron where about 67 Jews (out of about 500) were killed by Arabs, with the rest eventually evacuated by the British administration ‘for their safety). This massacre strengthened the influence of Jewish military units such as the Hagenah, instrumental in the subsequent brutal terrorist attacks and ethnic cleansing of the Nakba (catastrophe) in 1948. As a site of such religious significance it has been the prime target for settlement by the most extreme religious Jewish elements. This settler colonisation has led to the development of a settlement of about 7000, called Kiryat Arba, which is just outside Hebron, accessed by a main road from Israel, and which is now linked by militarily protected roads, with severe restrictions on Palestinian movement, and which provide continguous links and access to settlements within Hebron Old City itself, of about 500 settlers.
Within Hebron, under military control and law, the occupation makes life for Palestinians difficult, as it does through the occupied territories, with movement restrictions affecting: the economy, access to resources such as water and healthcare, schooling; as well as night raids, the illegal detention and torture of minors for e.g. throwing stones, and enforced demolitions of businesses and homes.
CPT, Christian Peacemaker Teams, have a team in Hebron, where they work in partnership with the Palestinians to transform violence and oppression through non violent direct actions. Key aims include, to:
- Honor and reflect the presence of faith and spirituality
- Strengthen grassroots initiatives
- Transform structures of domination and oppression
- Embody creative non-violence and liberating love
In Hebron the team has regular activities involving monitoring access of children to schools and Palestinian worshippers to religious sites such as the Ibrahimi mosque, as well as being on call for incidents, as they occur, involving, for example, aggression from the military or settlers, this may include being called to violent clashes, demonstrations, and night raids. Team members take turns to perform these activities as well as the other tasks for maintaining the team: shopping, cooking, washing , cleaning, social media and team briefings, reflections and co-ordination with partners and other agencies in Hebron.
Children are vulnerable to the aggression of the military occupation, and often detained on the pretext of stone throwing, and subject to torture.
A Recent report by independent experts commissioned by the UN, the committee on the rights of children has confirmed that Israel routinely tortures children as young as 5. Bearing in mind that under Israeli military law a child is under 12, and for international law is under 18.
From the UN
“[Palestinian children are] systematically subject to physical and verbal violence, humiliation, painful restraints, hooding of the head and face in a sack, threatened with death, physical violence, and sexual assault against themselves or members of their family, restricted access to toilet, food and water.
“These crimes are perpetrated from the time of arrest, during transfer and interrogation, to obtain a confession but also on an arbitrary basis as testified by several Israeli soldiers as well as during pretrial detention.”
What is the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its Optional Protocols?
The CRC is the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world. It contains a full range of human rights – civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights. The four Guiding Principles of the CRC are:
• the right of all children to survival and development
• respect for the best interests of the child as a primary consideration in all decisions relating to children
• the right of all children to express their views freely on all matters affecting them
• the right of all children to enjoy all the rights of the CRC without discrimination of any kind.
1. A brief historical survey. 2 minute Film summarising events since 1900,
2. The occupation in Hebron : B’tselem video “Playing the security card”
other useful resources:
Interactive map Hebron
Mapping the apartheid; Shuhada Street Hebron