A Palestinian's Home Is Not His Castle
By Maureen Jack, CPT Hebron
The apartheid wall takes many forms; in our neighbourhood in Hebron you can see it in locked gates and prohibited areas. Violence, too, takes many forms; in our neighbourhood it sometimes comes as discrimination and injustice and oppression.
The Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron rents three apartments in a block in the Old City, just by the chicken market. The fourth apartment is owned by a Palestinian family. You couldn't wish for nicer neighbours. For years the mother would bring delicious Palestinian food. But things became very difficult for them a year or so ago. Israeli soldiers in the neighbourhood often prevented the sons and daughters from getting to school or university. They felt unable to continue living in their apartment and so moved to an area of the city which is away from the small Jewish settlements; where they live now is safer and allows a somewhat greater degree of movement. They come back from time to time to check on their old apartment.
This family is not alone in leaving their home in this area. Indeed, apart from those rented by CPT, only one apartment in the street is still occupied.
Another family that has moved called on December 30 to ask for our help. Their apartment is a couple of doors up the street from CPT's. Like our immediate neighbours, they moved out a year ago because of all the trouble and harassment but want to visit their apartment to check that all is well and to collect some more of their possessions. This should be straightforward; but not in Hebron, not in Palestine.
Between the entrances to our and their apartments there is a high fence and locked gate, put there by Israeli soldiers. This prevents the family from simply walking up our street and going in their door. But this should not be insuperable as our street is not a cul-de-sac, and you can enter it from the other end, from Shuhada Street. This is a fine wide street, built in the late 1990s with USAID money. But for the last couple of years, everyone except Jewish settlers, Israeli soldiers and a few Palestinian residents of the street with permits, has been forbidden to set foot on the street. CPTers Kristin Anderson, Art Gish and Maureen Jack accompanied the family to a nearby army post to ask for permission for them to visit their apartment. The soldiers called their commander, but permission was refused. We asked at a local police post, but they said that they take their orders from the army. The family does not want to try to visit their house without an official permit, but there seems no chance that this will be given.
This family is not allowed to visit their own apartment to retrieve their own possessions. They have done nothing wrong, but are the wrong nationality in the wrong place at the wrong time. For this, they are being punished.
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:
http://www.cpt.org. Photos of our projects may be viewed