CPTNET Mar. 13, 1997

Fast for Rebuilding, Day 12: A Sign of Hope by Mark Frey

Last night Harriet Lewis, an Israeli peace activist spending a couple days with the team, joined me to visit the home of 65-year-old Jamil Suefan. He served us tea and showed us news video footage of his family getting beaten by Israeli soldiers two days ago. Jamil pointed out: "There's my 4-year-old grandaughter getting hit; there's my 57-year-old brother getting beaten with a wooden club; there's my son being pushed off a wall, there's my......" Earlier I had seen the grandaughter with facial bandages. Looking around the crowded room I saw men who'd been knocked limp and senseless in the video now with swollen eyes and lips.

The clash erupted two nights ago outside the settlement of Kiryat Arba when Israelis began bulldozing a new security perimeter road right through some of Jamil's land. When one family member protested to a small group of nearby soldiers, some mutual shoving ensued and the soldiers placed the Palestinian in a choke-hold. At that point other family members intervened and the situation escalated. Soon soldiers were beating Palestinians. Three - four hundred settlers watched the beatings from their roofs, and the bulldozer just kept on dozing.

Jamil and his extended family -- about 45 people in all -- live right outside Kiryat Arba settlement. They have endured years of harassment from their Jewish neighbors including rock throwing and fire bombs on their roofs. Now the settlement is taking their farm land for a "security road."

During our visit, Jamil laughed with us and showed off his family. He really connected with Harriet, my Israeli companion, and soon was inviting her back the next night for a large meal. For me that was a sign of hope amidst the deteriorating "peace process." Here was an old Palestinian who'd seen the establishment of Israel out of his homeland, lived under the Israeli Occupation, just had his land confiscated and been beaten along with his family by Israeli soldiers, and yet he was inviting Harriet, an Israeli, to be his special guest for dinner.