Ghost Town

Trip Start Apr 01, 2013
Trip End Apr 11, 2013

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Where I stayed
CPT Headquarters

Flag of Palestinian Territory  ,
Saturday, April 6, 2013

We got up about 7:00 and had breakfast about 8:00. For breakfast we had eggs cooked on top of tomatoes with just a little spice in them.  They were like poached eggs and were delicious.  While we waited for the taxis to arrive we went out into the field where Majd was tending the sheep.  Abdul and Mohammed got out their sling shots and were throwing stones out into the orchard.  One taxi arrived on time but the other one got held up at a road block and arrived at 9:15.  We all piled in and headed for Hebron.  We retraced our steps to Bethlehem again skirting Jerusalem.  There was a lot more traffic because the Muslims don't work on Fridays.  We stopped just before Bethlehem, next to a Monastery, for a great look at Jerusalem in the Distance.  Iyad was with us as he had a meeting in Bethlehem.  He told us many Muslims stop there to see the Dome of the Rock because they are not allowed to go to Jerusalem.  Phung and I were in the smaller taxi with Iyad so we went into Bethlehem to drop him off at the same place we had met with Dr. Massim.  We caught up with the other taxi and proceeded through the countryside to Hebron.  We passed Bedouin camps and many places along the road where all the olive trees have been cut down by the Israelis for "security" reasons.

When we arrived in Hebron we were immediately assaulted by many young boys wanting to sell us Palestinian bracelets and bags etc.  We unloaded our luggage and went through what seemed like tunnels but which are called passageways until we reached the Christian Peace Team building.  The poverty all along the way and in the markets was in sharp contrast to our experiences in Bethlehem and Jerusalem.  All along the way the merchants were trying to sell us things.  They are desperately poor.  The Building for CPT is along Shuhuda Street which was the main shopping district in the Old Suc (Old City).  Now it is divided and Palestinians are not allowed to use the street.  So we entered the building through a back door.  We walked up the steep stone steps and deposited our luggage.  We have a section of the building for delegations which consists of three bedrooms with mattresses on the floor, a common room, a kitchen, bathroom with a shower (hallelujah) and a washing machine.

Walid Abu Halawa, the Director of the Hebron Reconstruction Project, soon arrived.  He gave us an orientation to the Old City.  He told us how this is the only city to have Settlements in the Old City.  There are five of them and the strategy is to take over the Old City bit by bit by harassing and cutting off the Palestinians from their jobs and homes.  The people who lived on Shuhada Street mostly had to abandon their shops and homes because the only access was from the street.  Soon we set off for our tour of the Old City.  It was immediately evident that Sister Paulette is a “rock star” in Hebron.  Everyone knows her and loves her.  Walid told us how they are trying to paint over all the graffiti on the steel doors that close the shops at night.  As we walked through the market to the checkpoint there was chain link fence over the top of our heads.  This is because the settlers who live above throw everything out their windows, garbage, bottles, glass, urine and feces.  It is disgusting.  When we reached the end of the market we went through the checkpoint.  Just as we got there a group of Israeli soldiers came through.  There was also a young man who had a load of groceries and soda on a hand truck.  In order to go through the checkpoint he had to take one box at a time, then take each arm load to its destination because the hand truck did not fit through the checkpoint.  We decided to help him get them through the checkpoint. 

Then we went through the checkpoint ourselves and then through another checkpoint to go to the Ibrahimi Mosque.  When we went into the mosque we had to remove our shoes and the women had to put on robes with a hood to cover the hair.  The mosque is built over the cave where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca, Jacob, and Lea are buried.  The first space we went into was a prayer space with lots of rugs, a beautiful chandelier, and glass windows.  Then we went into the mosque and saw the tombs over the cave.  There was one place where you could look down into the cave. 

When we left we went onto Shuhada Street.   We saw Paulette’s good friend Abed who calls her his Juliette, so I said he must be Romeo.  There are just three Palestinian shops and homes right at the checkpoint that are still open on Shuhada Street.  .  For lunch we had falafel delivered to us.  Abed gave us tea or water with our lunch.

After lunch we walked part way down Shuhada Street with Walid, to the next checkpoint.  At the checkpoint they wouldn’t let Walid proceed with us.  So some of us objected and confronted the soldiers with the irrationality of this.  They didn’t know how to deal with us.  We ended up going the rest of the way ourselves and returning to Walid at the checkpoint.  We saw all the homes and shops that had been closed when they closed Shuhada Street. 

When we got back to CPT we settled in and everyone had a chance to take a shower. Some of us went up on the roof for a wonderful view of Hebron.  We got laundry together to do a load.   For supper Zelieka, who rents the building to CPT, made us supper.  We had maqluba again.  The salad was made mostly from greens she grows in containers right there.  There is a courtyard with a table surrounded by her garden and the garden continues in the next room which is also open to the sky.  She uses pipe like CPV and 2 liter pop bottles for little green houses.  It is remarkable what she can grow in the middle of the city in such a small area.  Paul and Cassandra, two of the CPT, joined us for supper and told us about a city south of Hebron where they are present because of severe problems with the training ground/firing range which they want to expand.  They are threatening to demolish 8 Palestinian homes so the CPT goes and sleeps there as they will probably not do it while there is an International presence.  We talked about this for a while.  Some of us went up on the roof to see the city at night.  It was spectacular.  Then it was bedtime.
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Peg Bishop, osf on

To be able to see these people and experience their lives up close with Paulette who has become a friend among them is greater than any tour could be. Blessed are all of you. My prayers do continue for your safety as well as your inspiration. Love ya, Peg

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