A call came for the Hebron Team to come quickly to the street Friday, January 21,1:30pm. The military had stopped the people going home after Friday prayers at the Mosque. CPT found the people bottled up in the narrow exit tunnel of the Old City. It was an explosive situation. Some of the people had managed to push out into the Plaza where the soldiers were yelling at the people who were yelling back, asking the soldiers to let them return home.
Fortunately two CPT-ers from Tuwani joined the Hebron Team in front of six soldiers who had their guns pointed at the crowd. Each of the Team tried to get the soldiers to calm down, to stop yelling, to let the folks go home. Instead of listening to reason, the soldiers yelled more at the people. They tried to force the people to move back. They put their guns into people’s faces, young or old-anyone trying to sneak by.
CPTers noted with joy the nonviolent ways the Palestinians were resisiting. The young boys with the fruit carts were the heros of the day. They lined their fruit carts up to form a blockade to protect the people and give them a little space apart from the soldiers. When a soldier was yelling in his face, one young boy calmly ate his apple and refused to budge. Someone else passed out candy.
One upset young man went up to the soldiers and pleaded with them. The soldiers eventually arrested him and forced him into the military compound. Later, CPT heard from the boy himself that he was simply asking the soldiers over and over to let his father get to the hospital for a shot of medicine. The boy said, after the soldiers arrested him, they blindfolded him, made him kneel, tied his hands behind him and hit him with full force on the head.
A man from Jordan who was in the crowd could not believe his eyes. When asked why they were doing this, the military said theysaw someone with a gun. Once this word was spoken, the soldiers chased one or two young men and accused them of carrying the phantom gun. Finally, the assemblage of military men managed to find one terrified youth whom they brought down to their gate with great show. At that point the crowd was released. Some, however, stayed on concerned for the boy who had been detained. One of the merchants from the souk told us: “Forget any gun. This is a military exercise, the purpose of which is to discourage people from coming to Friday worship at the mosque.”
The young boy the soldiers had arrested earlier came by to tell CPT his story and to thank the CPTers who had tried to monitor what happened to him inside the gates. He was the fortunate one of the two the Military had arrested.