You are probably wondering if the tensions in Jerusalem is affecting life here. Today, Nassar came and asked if we could go to his village and walk around so that settlers know there is an international presence. There has been reports of more settler violence and harassment and it is believed that some were in his village during the night but were scared off when a man woke and yelled.
I was briefly in Jerusalem on Monday before going to Bethlehem. There is a sign on one of the streets announcing that there are renovations in East Jerusalem and sorry for the inconvenience. Of course the ‘renovations’ are home demolitions as Israel takes more of East Jerusalem. Netanyahu did announce 1300 new settlements in East Jerusalem earlier this year. It is clear provocation. But of course no excuse for violence. However things sometimes seems hopeless.
Netanyahu talks about the battle for Jerusalem. To annex East Jerusalem is against international Law and would leave the Palestinian Christians and Muslims without access to their holy sites. East Jerusalem is part of the West Bank and very important for Palestinians.
Today we let our presence be felt in a couple of villages. The villagers feel that they are safer if we are around. Of course, that is not always possible. We stayed in Susiya for more than an hour walking on the outskirts of the village. I am sure that the soldier(s) in the watchtower saw us and perhaps the settlers saw us too. Then we got a call from Um la Kher. Some homes made from metal were being put up but they got a stop work order. So now there are eight structures that are either ‘stop work’ or under demolition order. Sad, really. The Norwegian Refugee Counsel (NRC) is providing free legal aid and also they have another lawyer. So there can be two court cases as they challenge the orders.
Hoping the shepherd is okay. He is very vulnerable as shepherds are often alone and in remote areas.
Abed, our driver just came in to see the pictures we took of the detained men. The one who ended up arrested has his trial on Sunday in Ramallah and it would mean his freedom if our pictures show that it was definitely in Palestinian territory. Leif has one that shows the detained men and the shepherd in the background and there is also one of me talking to a soldier in front of the detained men so I may be going to testify.