Conversations during clashes

Fri, 20 Jun 97

Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT)

Compiled by Kathleen Kern

In the last week in Hebron clashes between Palestinian youth and Israeli soldiers have caught the world's attention. Following are some conversations that members of the CPT delegation currently staying with the team in Hebron have had with soldiers. Soldier: What are you doing here? Amy Babcock: We're here watching for human rights violations S: So have you seen any? AB: Yes, we've seen many upsetting things today...This morning I saw a soldier shoot at a shop keeper who was putting his cart away. And worst of all, the soldiers were laughing when it happened. The shopkeeper wasn't throwing stones. Why did they shoot at him? S: I think he did something a couple weeks ago. AB: He did something two weeks ago and you shot at him now? S: Maybe it wasn't a couple weeks. Maybe it was two days ago. AB: It's not fair to shoot at man who was just [pushing] his cart down the street. And you shoot at children. They're no taller than this [holding hand three feet above the ground] and you shoot at them. S: Okay. Let me say this. I don't shoot at the little ones and only at their feet. We're not trying to kill them. We only fire rubber bullets at them. AB: Then why do you shoot at them at all? They're throwing stones and you _shoot_ you're gun at them. S: We have to shoot at them...Our commander tells us to. AB: Sometimes orders are wrong. S: Yeah, but that's what we're here for. We do what our commanders tell us...We have to serve our country. If we don't fight, there will be no land for us. All the countries around us will take it way.

Anne Herman: Do you like being here? Soldier: Yes. AH: Why? S: Because I feel like a warrior. AH: So you do like being here. S: [Actually] I wanted to be a paratrooper, but I have medical problems, so I signed up for computers. But I wasn't smart enough. AH: Aren't the Palestinians people to? The children aren't throwing stones at you. They're throwing stones at the uniform. S: I can't carry a sign [that says] "I am a good person."

Soldier: We are not allowed to shoot children. Jane Adas: Up to how old is a child? S: 18....no. 16. Rubber bullets must be shot at a distance of no less than 500 meters. JA: How far is that? To the end of that street? S: No. Much farther. [The spot to which Jane pointed was the place where youth throwing rocks and bottles were standing and were indeed being shot at by soldiers.]

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Soldier: Yesterday a soldier got hit between the eyes with a marble from a slingshot, like David and Goliath. JA: Only now he is Goliath and the Palestinian is David. S: A Palestinian David? NEVER!!

***************** Soldier known as "Ilya the Gorilla" who appeared to derive pleasure from shooting at the Palestinian youth: I don't care for Arabs and I don't care for settlers........I won't live past 40.

Conversation with two TIPH (Temporary International Presence in Hebron) observers--both with police backgrounds.

Since February, TIPH has had 140 personnel from 6 countries. The female TIPHnik had served in Bosnia earlier, and told Jane Adas that it was less tense in Hebron because "this is not real war." TIPH sends reports every day to six sponsoring countries. They are never published and the TIPH observers never receive responses to their reports. They have no idea what happens to them. At then end of the conversation, they positioned themselves at the bottom of the hill and were concerned that the CPTers remained at the top, close to the clash.

Jane Adas: Are your sympathies ever drawn to either side? Both TIPH observers: Of course--but our reports are objective. We only describe what we have seen. We must never, ever intervene. JA: Will you write and talk about the situation when your terms are finished? Female TIPH: Probably not. I want to sign up for an assignment someplace else. Male TIPH: Yes. If you read our reports, you will know what a grotesque situation this is. _________________________________________________

CPT Hebron has maintained a violence reduction presence in Hebron for almost two years 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