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Sue Rhodes’ Letter From Hebron

Sue Rhodes’ Letter From Hebron

Sue Rhodes visited NZ in March/April and returned to Hebron in May

Dear all,

This has been an exhausting and worrying week for all of us in Hebron. Our co-ordinator, Greg, was arrested on Sunday18th May and has been in prison ever since. On Saturday 17th May we were horrified when a suicide bomber blew himself and a settler couple up only a block and a half from our apartment.

It happened in a settler area to which we have been denied access so we were unable to offer help or sympathy. We watched from our roof, for sometime hardly able to believe that such a terrible thing had happened so close. The explosion rocked our apartment. The army searched the whole area and well into the night we had low flying spotter planes and personell carrying tanks roaring around us.

The following morning six of the team went on school patrol but were turned back.

Greg and one other went up into the town to look at the situation and found about thirty men being detained. When the men were released after three and a half hours Greg was arrested. He is now threatened with deportation, but as there is no charge our lawyer is contesting this.

On Monday 19th we had our first military search for a long time and the following day the army arrived with camers and documented many of our possessions.

We were then issued with orders:

We must stay within the Israeli controlled area and may not visit the Palestinian areas. In effect we cant get to the shops or the markets we have always (8 years) used.

We may not do school patrol.

We may not observe soldiers at work.

If we are found where we are not permitted we will be arrested and deported.

If we leave the area in which we live we will not be permitted to re-enter (no more visits to Jerusalem etc)

AND we are to observe the imposition of curfew.

You will realise that all this restricts the work we came here to do: to be a witness and a presence for the Palestinians and to place ourselves between people in conflict.

Our Palestinian friends are anxious for our well being. We have received many solidarity visits and gifts of food. Our phone rings all the time. They say "Now you are real Hebronites (Khalilis)" and they mean it sincerely.

So here we are...under house arrest much of the time, but getting out into areas we have not previously explored and making new friends. School holidays started today so we are not over anxious about our patrol restrictions. Our increased time 'at home' means we are all busy on computers and have time for Arabic studies too.

Our main concern remains for Greg, still incarcerated without charge after eight days.

He is Canadian so there is much communication with Ottawa. He is well and phones us every day, hoping we will have some news for him.

Today we walked over to the elementary school to talk to the Headmaster. His pupils had all completed their last examinations and gone home. An empty school is a sad looking space! I found the Turkish delight shop on the way has been closed every time I have looked for it since September, so we have enjoyed a box full!

This afternoon I went out during curfew, using a circuitous route we explored a few months back. I had my hair cut and felt as if I was playing truant! The Palestinian women were delighted that I had joined them in defiance and a simple haircut turned into a party. They are full of advice for improvement of my appearance and I have special oil to ake my eyebows grow thicker in four weeks and I am instructed to put olive oil on my hair and sit in the sun for 15 minutes a day to darken it! I hope it works because I know they were planning to dye it at my next visit. They would have done it today but I told them it would need consensus at a team meeting.

So I escaped today for a spot of normality and different company and the team enjoyed my stories on return.

There has to be a sad end to this saga.

Yesterday morning we heard two huge explosions. Two suicide bombers have been identified and the first explosion was demolition of a family home and the second was an entire apartment block of 15 apartments and the apartment buildings either side were severely damaged. Eighty people have been rendered homeless: one apartment only belonged to the parents of the suicide bomber, everyone else was totally innocent.

We have had some contact with the Liason Officer of the Army here who has brought us a map of our newly imposed boundaries. Contact with him enabled us to pass on our letter of condolence to the families of the settler couple killed so close to our 'home'. We hope he will be able to deliver it for us: the couple lived in Tel Aviv and were here on a visit.

WE put on the news and it sounds so strange to hear that the Israeli Government is talking of peace negotiations whilst in the eight years of CPT presence the situation has never been as difficult and restricted.

With love and best wishes, Sue. PS we have just been rocked by another explosion but I have been to the roof and seen that the army is not responding, so we are assuming they have detonated a percussion grenade nearby.

Christian Peacemaker Teams is an ecumenical initiative to support violence reduction efforts around the world. To learn more about CPT's peacemaking work, please visit our website at

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