"My first day back in the West Bank-- traveling to Hebron"

September 14, 1997

By Sara Reschly

"When you respect me and I respect you, that is peace," said the middle-aged Palestinian man sitting in the van/ taxi with me. We had been waiting over twenty minutes at a checkpoint near Jerusalem and were discussing the horrible incident we had just experienced. "They [the Israeli government] call this peace, but we are not even allowed to travel between villages and cities. They come with their guns and do what they want. They even treat us like dogs. There is no justice here," he stated.

The incident: On my first day back in Israel/ Palestine, I was in an "Arab" taxi headed south towards Hebron when an Israeli soldier waved for the taxi to pull over at the checkpoint. After checking our identity cards and shouting at us, the soldier forced six of the ten passengers to get out of the taxi. An elderly woman sitting next to me tried to explain to the soldier that one of the men forced out of the taxi was her husband and that she and he were just returning to their village after visiting the hospital in Jerusalem. The young soldier responded with fierce words and ignored her pleas. Although I could not understand what he was screaming and yelling at us, I understood the message: `you are less than human.'

Since the two bombings in Jerusalem, the Israeli military has declared an internal closure within the West Bank. Palestinians are not allowed to travel between cities; for example, if a person's identity card does not state Hebron as place of residence, then that person is not allowed into Hebron and is not allowed to travel to other West Bank cities unless s/he has a special permit. _________________________________________________

CPT Hebron has maintained a violence reduction presence in Hebron since June of 1995 at the invitation of the Hebron Municipality.

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) is an initiative among Mennonite and Brethren congregations, and Friends meetings who support violence reduction Teams around the world. Contact CPT at P.O. Box 6508 Chicago, IL 60680 USA; Tel: 312-455-1199; Fax: 312-666-2677; e-mail: CPT@igc.org To join CPTNET send an e-mail to admin@MennoLink.org and the message: Group: menno.org.cpt.news Visit us on the WEB: http://www.prairienet.org/cpt

"The Sign of God is that we will be led where we did not plan to go." --Levely