Bethlehem and Hebron


Today the delegation traveled both to Bethlehem and Hebron. In Bethlehem we toured some of the holy Christian sites and had a chance to invest in the local economy, via souvenirs manufactured in the area.

When leaving the city we stopped in a refugee camp that resides right next to the apartheid wall. The wall is decorated with spray-painted art, celebrating the people's resistance to occupation. Many children in the camp were playing with toy rifles, a sad reminder of the day-to-day realities of their lives. Our host Mitri pointed out a blue gate, that if opened would offer a quick route to Jerusalem. Being closed, travel to Jerusalem is extended by half an hour.

On our way to Hebron, we were stopped at a checkpoint. We were let through after an Israeli soldier checked our passports. All along the way we saw settlements as well as dug-up olive trees. We observed that the roads are in very poor condition around Palestinian villages and cities, but are very nice near the settlements.

In Hebron, we toured the old city. Immediately we were confronted with the utter inhumanity of settlers living beside the city, who day by day encroach further into Hebron. Many houses in the city have been overtaken by Israel, and thus the settlers live right next to (and sometimes right above) Palestinian homes. This proximity has proven to be a tremendous bane on the lives of Palestinians living in Hebron. Day-to-day humiliations include trash and boulders that are hurled at Palestinians walking through Hebron's streets. At every turn we saw Israeli soldiers stationed on rooftops, with their guns pointed towards the street.

We were invited to have tea in the home of a local teenager, who described the brutal murders of his brothers by the Molotov cocktails of Israeli settlers who jumped to their rooftop in the middle of the night. We were shown the room where one of the brothers had been burned alive while he was sleeping, less than one year ago. An additional tragedy inflicted upon the family occurred two days ago, when the boys' mother was attacked, causing her unborn baby to die inside her. The Israeli government has offered this family 1 million shekels (about $300,000) to leave their ancestral home, but the family refuses to be intimidated or bought.

After this visit, we went through the Israeli checkpoints surrounding the central Mosque of Hebron. These checkpoints were set up in response to an Israeli settler who stormed the Mosque and shot at Palestinian worshippers. These checkpoints seemed to be intimidating residents rather than deterring settlers' terrorism, because of the way soldiers were yelling at a young Palestinian man. Additionally, while there are many soldiers around the city, a young Palestinian was killed last night at the hands of an Israeli settler.


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