Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A "Quiet" Day

"How are things in Hebron?"  I ran into some ISMers (volunteers with the International Solidarity Movement) in Jerusalem today.

"It's been pretty quiet. No clashes this week." Then I thought a little more about yesterday. "An 11 year-old boy was detained at the mosque, taken first to the military base, then to the police station, and released a few hours later."

"Yes, we heard. We also heard tear gas was used on young children?"

"Oh, yeah.  On their way to school, some small kids were throwing rocks at a checkpoint.  The soldiers' response was a sound bomb first and then teargas."  At small children. When Israeli soldiers shot out the teargas, a mother carrying her young child was also walking through the area.

"But this morning they only used a sound bomb, no teargas." Pause. "There is something wrong when 'only a sound bomb' constitutes a better day."

Let me repeat: There is something wrong when lobbing a sound bomb at young children on the way to school, even if they throw rocks, is a sign of a better day.

In my conversation with the ISMers I forgot to mention how we were again stopped while between the two turnstiles at the mosque checkpoint as soldiers consulted with their commander over whether or not we could wear our vests.  We could.  Well, the two of us who simply walked through the area on the way to another checkpoint were allowed to.  However, the border police told the two CPTers who stayed in the mosque area to monitor that they could not stay with vests and hats on.  They took them off.

I forgot to mention how later in the day border police threatened to arrest members of TIPH (Temporary International Presence in Hebron) who were taking pictures at the mosque checkpoint. TIPHers have diplomatic immunity. It is highly unusual for border police to harass them.  ISMers who were in the area when the argument happened started taking pictures and filming.  The border police also threatened to arrest them.

I was not present at most of the above events.  Perhaps that's why the day seemed relatively quiet to me.  However, for Hebron such a day is a pretty quiet day.

As I write, I am aware that "quiet" is a more relative term than I had thought.  My notion of the word has certainly changed in the last month.  I look forward to a few months from now when a quiet day no longer includes checkpoints, arguments over wardrobe, arrests, and sound bombs.  I look forward to a time when no one's day includes any of those things.  I will likely never see that day, but I will nevertheless keep working to inch the world a little closer (if not an inch, even a millimeter or two would be OK) to such a reality.  

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