Hebron, South Hebron Hills
Today’s shift was planned to include a meeting with the Keramim pre-army program which is spending a week in Judean and Samaria.
Rain and fog all the way to Hebron – no military on the road and only two police cars ticketing everyone they can (one at the Beit Haggai junction and one at the junction of Highway 60 and Highway 35).
The agricultural gate next to the gas station is open, the almond tree still blooming.
The meeting with participants in the pre-army program.
There are 45 students in addition to group leaders and support staff. Leah teaches on a permanent basis and this is the fourth year we’ve met with them.
Many of the students, as well as the head of the program, are religious and live in the settlements.
The participants are pleasant and polite and try to keep an open mind. They arrive in an armored bus belonging to the Southern Hebron Hills regional council following a meeting in Kiryat Arba, and park in the lot next to the Cave of the Patriarchs, which is completely flooded.
Based on our experience in previous years, as well as because of the weather, we decided there’s no point in walking around town with them but have them meet Palestinians instead.
We sat for two hours with the Muqstab family (‘Abed’s relatives) and Muhammad, the son, spoke – Leah and I interrupting him (too frequently) with explanations.
Mufid Shar’abati tells his story – and the time is up… I take them for a short walk to see the H1 area of town. We part at Beit Hadassah.
In general, it was excellent. And Muhammad was fantastic. At the end of the discussion they invited Muhammad to visit the program – he told them he’s not even allowed to reach Jerusalem…
Lessons for the future: don’t agree to be limited to two hours, compared to more than eight hours allotted to the Hebron Jewish Community. Ya’ir, the program’s director, says that next year we’ll also be scheduled for an introductory discussion at the program’s home site.