Tag: hebron

My First Day in Occupied Palestine

Today was my first full day as an ISM’er in Al-Khalil (Hebron).

A regular part of our work is to monitor Israeli checkpoints beside schools in the mornings since the teachers ask for an international presence. Often there can be problems with violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian children. Another reason ISM is there, is to count the number of school children using the checkpoint, to see how many children are suffering from this daily stress, which sadly, is part of normal life under the occupation. The data we collect is passed on to NGOs who collects data on children in the whole of Palestine. It is necessary for children living in the H2 area to pass through this checkpoint to reach their school. The Palestinian children are often subjected to intimidation and harassment as they are searched in claustrophobic rooms within the highly militarized structures. This morning i was monitoring Qeitun checkpoint with two other ISM’ers.

Around 120 children, mostly boys, passed through the checkpoint in the first half an hour. There were clearly armed Israeli solders stationed in heavily armored towers overlooking the checkpoint, creating an intimidating atmosphere. There was an older Palestinian man encouraging the children to go through the checkpoint as a few of them were nervously waiting in front of them. In the midst of our counting of children we heard shouting from around the corner and saw a group of Palestinian children being chased by heavily armed Israeli border police, although we were in H1, out of Israeli jurisdiction. A few of the children thew stones towards the invading border police and before we knew what happened a soldier lobbed a stun grenade directly at the children. This grenade exploded a few metres in front of the children standing at an entrance to a junior school. I was down the street but the loud noise really reverberated through my body and sent my heart racing. It was the first time I had experienced this kind of weapon and moments after, I was still terrified. The grenade sent the children fleeing in all directions and one of them dropped his school bag. An Israeli soldier stole his bag and took it with him. As he walked past us an ISM activist asked him “why have you taken his school bag?’, the soldier muttered “to check it”. Of course this was a lie as they did not open it and I found it infuriating that heavily armed, grown men would steal the school bag of a child as some sort of immature intimidation technique.

The Women in Hebron cooperative

International Solidarity Movement human rights monitors spend the afternoon at the Women in Hebron embroidery cooperative where Palestinian women are empowering themselves and persisting with grace in a colourful and beautiful way in a community space amidst the horror of the ongoing military occupation of their home.