Saturday, November 28, 2009
Al Khalil, Hebron, the day before Eid al Adha (Holiday of the Sacrifice). You know the story. Abraham willingly offered up his son to god only to be told by said god that sheep would do as sacrifice in his son’s place.
My friend Alessandra and I wanted to buy some embroidery and scarves to send home to our families. So with the well wishes of our Palestinian friends but without their company, they knew better. We braved the crowds they had warned us about and made our way to the old city of Hebron.
Tatreez is traditional Palestinian embroidery, beautiful needlework with unique styles for the different regions of Palestine. Hebron also is home to the last Palestinian factory producing keffiyehs, you know those checkered scarves you’ve seen on all the hipsters the past few years. Keffiyehs are a traditional Middle Eastern scarf, colors checkered with white. Some colors have political associations and some are just for fashion. Red in Jordan is a symbol of Jordanian nationalism like the traditional black in Palestine. Politically within Palestine black is also the color for those supporting Fatah, red for the left PFLP and green for Hamas. The keffiyehs you see for sale at Urban Outfitters are produced in Chinese sweatshops and the exploitation of workers in these factories has resulted in unnaturally low prices that have helped put factories like Hebron’s out of business. Revolutionary consumption akin to the Che t-shirt phenomenon.
Getting to Hebron was time consuming. The crowds were out full force, getting in their last minute holiday shopping. Hebron, especially the old city is always a lesson in the occupation, see my earlier posts for background and prior experiences. Today was no exception.
First off some of the city had flooded the previous night. From Bab al Zaway, the old city of Hebron slopes downward on cobblestone streets with no gutters. A perfect channel for rainwater. Combine that with the situation from illegal settlements:
Where a Palestinian street is blocked off from the “settler’s only” street and illegal settlement by buildings and gates. When the city floods the settlers plug the few holes on their side of the gate so there is no where for the runoff water to go. The Palestinian woman who runs a cooperative shop showed us how high (a couple feet) the water came in her store, destroying products.
One of the everyday injustices of the occupation.
Later, we were sitting in another store chatting with the owner, a man who has kept his tiny shop open continuously despite settler and solider violence against residents and particularly shop keepers. Suddenly there was shouting.
What is it we asked?
He peeked outside to look
The Israelis are arresting someone he said uncertain whether to downplay the incident and continue with the sale. He gets very little business because of incidents like this and no sale is taken for granted.
However, when we grabbed our cameras and headed out to the street he supported us. Here, stand here. Don’t worry about your cameras just keep filming, he said when we tried to hide them from the soldiers, they won’t take them here.
And there in the street the soldiers had a young man up against the wall and were beating him with their guns and kicking him. He was screaming in pain. Another young man tried to intervene and a shouting solider put an ak-47 to his head and herded him away. They stopped beating the young man and cornered him and another shopkeeper who had tried to intervene.
The photo is Alessandra's. Check out her blog at http://2come2.wordpress.com/, however it is in Italian.
We stayed and filmed, getting as close as we could. As the crowd swelled the soldiers ordered us back casually moving us along with the barrels of their guns.
Ten minutes later the IDF brought the two men down through the street under heavy guard.
Twenty minutes later we saw them outside of the gate of the Beit Romano settlement at Bab Ab-Balidiyah. There was a large crowd and the young man they had been beating was unconscious and being loaded into a Red Crescent ambulance.
We talked with two volunteers from the Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) who had joined us at the scene earlier and have been monitoring the city. Check out CPT, they do amazing work and are public about the atrocities they witness unlike the neutered Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) which only provides Israel and the PA with their findings. The soldiers, CPT said had been “patrolling” up and down the jam packed street all day.
He was the right age, said the elderly CPT volunteer. Referring to the fact that young Palestinian men are targeted for harassment by the IDF daily.
The right age? Look you can barely see the wisps of his facial hair as they load him into the back of the ambulance.
Read more about the incident here on Maan News (excellent Palestinian news source): http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=243019
Posted by Jo Ehrlich at Saturday, November 28, 2009