I am now going to back track a bit on my blogs. Sorry they are jumping about a bit in time.
Our first day after arriving in Palestine was to go and see Hebron. This town was a 15 minute drive away from where we were staying.
(for those wanting to know more about Hebron-http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hebron)
We gathered together in a bustling street near to the market to be told of where we were going and what we might see. Manal explained to us about the occupied areas and that we will see soldiers with guns and have to go through many checkpoints just to walk around this part of the city. We headed off through the streets. Emily (aged 12) suddenly felt unwell. I actually think she was frightened. Being told you were going to come face to face with soldiers with big guns is a frightening prospect for me aged 44 yet alone for a 12 year old.
Before walking far up the road we encountered out first checkpoint. Here we had to open our bags walk through an x-ray machine similar to those you find at airports and show our passports at the end. We went through with no trouble. This is not case for many Palestinians on a daily basis who can be strip searched at any time.
We continued following the hill upwards until we came to a ‘t’ junction and we were unsure which way to turn. A soldier came out of his box and shouted to us. “Where are you going?” He wasn’t aggressive, he merely asked us, but as he asked he cocked his gun up a little. Emily burst into tears and became a little hysterical convinced that he was going to shoot us. It took us a while to pacify her and tell her that this is his job and that he was probably only a few years older than she was. The last thing that he would want to do was to shoot an international- imagine the outcry. It took a while but finally she calmed down. We tried to persuade her to have her picture taken with him but she was still to frightened to. However some of our group did. A couple of more outspoken males of our group decided to question this young soldier about the occupation and his job and how wrong it was. I felt very uncomfortable at this, as wrong as I feel the occupation is, he is just doing his job and how intimidating it must have been for him being faced with about 15 foreigners in front of you being interrogated. Yep he had a gun, but at the end of the day he was only a kid doing what he was told to do, for HIS country…or what he believed to be his country.
We turned back from where we were first heading as we had Palestinians with us who wouldn’t have been allowed in and we also had children with us that we may have put in danger, so we went back down the hill to go to Shuhuda Street.
Here is one article about Shuhuda Street. There are hundreds more if you google the name of the street as well as Youtube clips
This once bustling market street is now dead. Palestinians had to close their businesses and their locks were welded to ensure that no more trade would happen from their doors.
After walking through a ghost town we arrived at a market area where traders were allowed to trade still. Lots of stalls were closed, but those that were open hoped for little bit of trade from all of us ‘internationals’ as not many travelled through. There were even some colourful ‘pickles’. These I gave a very wide berth.
It was all too easy whilst looking at the stalls selling an array of products from foods to scarves to jewellery to toys, to keep your eyes averted upwards. But as you walked through it became all too easy to notice the wire mesh above the alleyway designed to keep the rubbish away that the settlers throw down upon the Palestinians below. I am sure you can imagine what sort of things can be poured on the people below that the mesh won’t stop.
Out the other end and we were in front of the Ibrahimi Mosque. The mosque where Mohammed I wrote about in a previous post was shot and left for dead. At this point I hadn’t met Mohammed but after I had met him I pondered on the thought that every Palestinian who wanted to visit the mosque HAD to go though these stringent security checks, however the Jews who entered the other side of the building (as Abraham was their Patriarch too!) through a lovely park area, have no security checks. Think back to Mohammed’s story and ask is this fair?
It was at this point my camera battery died. So tomorrow I will continue with the rest of that day in Hebron with only words. Words will have to paint you the pictures.