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One night last February, more than 100 settlers in the Old City of Hebron marched through the city, yelling “death to Arabs.” The settlers called for the expulsion of all Palestinians from the area, and harassed and threw stones at Palestinian bystanders and homes. They were accompanied by over 70 Israeli armed forces.
As a correspondent for Mondoweiss on the ground in Palestine, I regularly record the observations of witnesses and victims of violence. Hundreds of people have told me what they saw or experienced, and on many occasions I have seen attacks myself firsthand. It’s my job to gather the facts each time, and report them for you. It’s my responsibility to provide you with information you won’t see elsewhere, and I count myself fortunate to have this opportunity.
Palestinian residents of Hebron are used to harassment and violence by settlers, which foster intimidation and fear day in and day out. And these incidents have become more frequent since Israel’s expulsion last February of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), an international observer group that monitored human rights violations in the city for many years.
When TIPH was forced to leave, a group of Hebron’s Palestinian activists formed their own team of observers. ChangeMakers like these brave civilians keep me inspired in my reporting and motivated to tell their stories. Because we need to keep informing the world about their work, I’m asking you to make a contribution to Mondoweiss today.
Children in Hebron on their way to school must pass through several checkpoints monitored by armed soldiers, and streets patrolled by violent settlers. The Palestinian observer group stepped up, often keeping watch in the morning to help the kids get to school safely. When I first reported on this issue, co-founder Issa Amro told me that the group had received a number of military orders to stop work, and had been attacked by settlers many times.
Now, ten months later, he told me that since the expulsion of TIPH, “There were more settler attacks on people and their homes. I myself was attacked physically eight times and detained 15 times. Before, if anyone was detained or arrested or attacked, they could call TIPH and other [international] organizations to help them. But now that doesn’t exist anymore—so we are trying to step up.
“We are continuing our work as observers as much as we can. In addition to walking the kids to school, we offer protection to families and farmers during the olive harvest. We have been attacked more by Israeli settlers and soldiers. But despite this we are happy to continue. We have more volunteers in the group, both Palestinians and internationals who pass through Hebron.
“The most difficult days are Jewish holidays. More settlers come to the city, which means more attacks on Palestinians. We try to maintain a presence at ‘hot spots’ all over the city. Sometimes we make ourselves visible and sometimes we try to blend in for safety. We face many difficulties trying to maintain a daily presence, especially because we are not a funded organization, we are all volunteers who do this work.”
Every day, I talk to Palestinian ChangeMakers who put themselves at risk to stand up for their communities, and I record the many challenges they must endure and overcome. Mondoweiss followed the observer team around one morning, and in the span of half an hour, the group, including our cameraman, was attacked and harassed by settlers. One international activist who filmed the altercation was arrested. While the risk for international reporters like me is far less than for Palestinians, it is clear that whenever we go out to cover events we may face violence.
I cover stories like these because I want to to share with you and the world that they do endure, and they do overcome. It matters that, even as Israel redoubles its efforts to force out watchful eyes, you and I are still watching, listening, reading, sharing. The more we work to tell the truth to the world, the better chance we have at holding abusers accountable. But without contributions from you and other readers, this work isn’t possible.
Issa and those who work with him are ChangeMakers because, even in the face of repression, they take action to protect their community. And thanks to you, the facts about these and other ChangeMakers in Palestine reach hundreds of thousands of people around the world. We believe it is urgent and necessary to deliver the truth to you. If you agree, please help us to continue this work.
Thanks to you, Mondoweiss multiplies the impact of Palestinian resistance by alerting the public. To awaken the world to the necessary actions, we must persist in broadcasting the facts about atrocities and resistance, day after day.
Please donate to Mondoweiss today. Together, we can make a difference.