“When good people do nothing then evil succeeds” say Sister Paulette a Roman Catholic Tiffin Sister from Ohio in the USA who spent 3 years as part of the Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron on the Palestinian West Bank and whom I met when visiting Hebron a few years ago.
There are 150,000 Palestinians in Hebron and about 400 Israeli settlers living in the Settlement which is right in the centre of the ancient city. The settlers are guarded by between 500 and 1,500 Israeli soldiers. The tension between Palestinians and settlers is sometimes reported in the news but we don't necessarily get the whole story. What we don’t often hear is that these 400 settlers are very ideologically bent. They feel that it is their land. … They say that because God gave them the land in Biblical times, it is theirs by right and it is their duty, to regain it, doing whatever they need to do to get it back which involves a great deal of violence.
The Peacemaker Teams are there to afford some protection to the Palestinians. They accompany children going through the checkpoints on their way to school, they accompany Palestinian shepherds and farmers to fields where they are exposed to assault by the settlers, they join Israeli peace groups to replant olive groves destroyed by settlers and join Palestinians and Israeli peace activists in acts of public nonviolent resistance to Israel's construction of the Wall which cuts through Palestinian territory.
The Christian Peacemaker Teams are constantly monitoring activities in Hebron, videotaping any incidents and uploading the videos to the Internet. Sister Paulette says, "We're there to either try to get in the way of the violence, to de-escalate it or to stand in the way of people who would be victims," she continued. "We want to reveal something that is not usually revealed in the media." Sister Paulette was attacked by teenagers in the settlement because they didn't like her videotaping them and the soldiers who were there on guard duty. She was kicked and choked and spat on, and the soldiers were slow to intervene but she refused to be put off.
Please pray for those doing this work in Hebron and other parts of the West Bank.