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Nonviolent Demonstration to Work Palestinian Land


CPT Nonviolent Demonstration to Work Palestinian Land

On Thursday February 26, members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams and a CPT delegation participated in a non-violent demonstration on Palestinian land near the Israeli settlement of Harsina.

Nafez Assaily, a local nonviolent activist and founder of the Library On Wheels for Nonviolence and Peace program in Hebron, owns a parcel of land adjacent to the Harsina settlement outside Hebron. An inheritance from his father, the land behind the house was an income-generating grape arbor until the Israeli military constructed a road and a fence that now separate the grape arbor from the Assaily home.

While the grape arbor legally belongs to the Assaily family, Assaily must obtain permission from the Israeli military to cross the Israeli constructed fence and road in order to reach his land. Every time Assaily calls Israeli officials for permission, his calls go unanswered. When Assaily told Israeli soldiers about his problem, soldiers responded by saying, "If there is no answer, you cannot work."

As a challenge to the illegal restrictions placed on him, Assaily asked CPT to join him in pruning vines in his grape arbor. Assaily and CPTers entered by passing through an opening in the fence, crossing the patrol road and crawling through destroyed vine supports. As the group tended to several vines, settlement guards called on Israeli soldiers to order Assaily and CPTers out of Assaily's field.

Israeli soldiers confronted Assaily and several CPTers. After some discussion, Assaily asked CPTers to follow the soldiers' orders and return to the other side of the fence. The group continued to repair areas of the Assaily property on the other side of the fence that Israeli workers damaged during its construction.

Israeli soldiers proceeded to interrogate one member of the group, a Palestinian friend of the CPT team. They confiscated her ID card and told her they would search her home. Two CPTers went to her house to provide a presence. Six soldiers searched the home two hours later.

At the same time, Israeli soldiers forced entrance into several near-by homes. CPTers observed and photographed as soldiers forced a young Palestinian man to lead them through his home and break into a neighbor's home. Palestinians told the CPT team that the soldiers were looking for evidence of fence tampering. Local reporters confirmed reports that the section of fence in question was actually removed by Harsina settlers.

At their requests, CPTers spent the night with Assaily and the Palestinian friend of the team whose home had earlier been searched by soldiers. The soldiers threatened them with night searches, but did not return that night.

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 at: http://www.cpt.org/gallery


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