A Day of Heartbreaking and Hope-filled Stories
Trip Start Apr 01, 2013
10Trip End Apr 11, 2013
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We got up about 7:00 and had mass at 8:00. Paul, who is a Quaker, joined us for mass. For breakfast we had cornflakes and pitas and juice. After breakfast we left to meet with Hani who is an activist for the resistance. We walked to Hani's coffee shop and he told us about his activism. He taught us that being angry and revengeful isn’t as effective as non-violent resistance. On this walk we went out of the Old City and through a very thriving market, not the Ghost Town that the Old City has become. There were cars, and carts with donkeys, and we walked mostly on the street as the sidewalks were crowded with people. Paulette led us in single file, fearlessly. Hani took us to his home where we met his wife and children and we shared tea and juice
Hani is a great storyteller. One time he ran out of water and called the mayor to get a water truck sent. But the mayor said the settlers would be violent. He wasn’t afraid for the truck but for the driver. So Hani said he would drive the truck. He drove the truck but couldn’t get up to his house because they stopped him at the checkpoint. So all the women and children brought containers and carried the water up the hill a little bit at a time. He said most of the water probably got spilled but they made their point. Another time there was a particular guard who was usually mean to them and he detained them when they came back from Friday noon prayer. It is the tradition to have a big family meal, makluuba, after Friday noon prayer. So the women and children brought the meal to the checkpoint and sat down in the street and had their meal. They began to be harassed by settlers and the soldiers but instead of yelling back they invited them to sit down and share the meal.
We headed back down the road, through the four checkpoints, down Shuhada Street to Abed’s for lunch. His wife had fixed??? MAQLUBA! Everyone’s is similar and good, but each has different vegetables and slightly different seasonings. While we ate Abed spoke passionately about his dream of ending the occupation. We are finding out with each person we meet, that the occupation is worse than Apartheid. The Palestinians do not have that fundamental right to citizenship, to a homeland. We did some shopping at Abed’s store and those of his neighbors (the three shops allowed to be open on Shuhada Street).
When we left Abed’s we did a little shopping in the bazaar on our way back to CPT. When everyone was back to CPT, some made the decision to stay at CPT. The rest of us walked to Issa’s house. The walk went through another part of town and up, up, up again through olive groves. On the way we came upon a group of Palestinian women and their children. When their children saw us they were afraid and ran back to their mothers. Paulette assured them that we were Americans and no need to fear
When we got back the van was waiting to take us to the South Hebron Hills to Atta Jaber’s House. We had to really scrunch together to get all of us and our luggage into one van. Luckily, the trip was less than half an hour. When we got off the main road we were on a stone road. Atta’s driveway was very steep and just two ruts up the hill
Atta is a farmer who owns 67 acres of the best farm land we have seen. The broad fertile valley in front of his house is full of grapevines, olive trees etc. His property has been cut in half by a road. On the other side of the road, where most of his property is, there is now a settlement. First they put in a gas station, then a road, then they started building settlements. Atta told us about how he used to live on the other side of the road, but his house was demolished twice. He had the help of many friends to build the new house on the other side of the road. He is frequently harassed by settlers who come and tear up his plantings and his irrigation pipes and hoses. He has built a cistern and there is a demolition order for that cistern. He is building another cistern right by the front door. He can’t use any large equipment or they would find out and come and fill it in. He had another cistern that they did fill with rocks.
Atta has four children, three girls and a boy
Atta, himself, has been active in the resistance and been arrested and beaten many times. His driveway has been blocked many times. Atta is 50 years old but he looks a lot older. But he has the most wonderful smile, his eyes sparkle when he speaks and he speaks great English, and has a wonderful heart. We were shown a video filmed by his daughter of settlers harassing them. There was a lot of shouting and threats and the settlers came right up on the porch. The family went inside and shut the steel doors and continued to film. It was really awful. Now I know why Palestinians have steel doors, bars on the windows, and steel shutters that can be closed.
Let me tell you a little about Atta’s house
We were really ready for bed!
Speech by Atta Jaber to the Norwegian Refugee Council at the Internal Displacement Centre in Geneva, Switzerland between 18 and 20 March, 2013.
Thank you Mr. President/Madame President for giving me this chance.
For the past 24 years me, my family, my house and my land were subject to several attacks by Israeli settlers and Israeli Occupation forces
My health was terribly affected by these attacks, my wife lived in constant fear for her children and their future. My children were deprived of their childhood and lived homeless, my family went through psychological pressure.
This is the suffering of many Palestinians living under the Israeli Occupation for the past 45 years who are subject to discriminatory policies by the Israeli Occupation that target our presence and life in our country and are violations to our rights as humans and as a nation living under occupation.
I come here today to present my suffering and the suffering of the Palestinians, I come here to ask from the UN to preserve and defend my humanity and freedom. I ask that they protect my right to live safely in my house and in my land, with my family. All I ask is to feel that I am a human who belongs to this world and universe and my homeland Palestine.