Our first day in Jerusalem

Getting through the King Hussein crossing into the West Bank from Jordan took approx 1.5 hours and at least six different checks – but no problems. This evening (Saturday) was quite eventful. After being dropped off at our hotel by the Canadian office representative from Ramallah, the six of us (three MPs, and three from Code Pink) walked down the winding street towards the old city.

Without realizing it at first we walked through a small area where 67 Palestinians were recently “evicted” and Jewish settlers moved in immediately. Sabbath was almost over and the settlers were leaving prayers, in their long black robes. A young American woman told us of the daily events unfolding as three Palestinian families try to hold onto their homes(the latest in a number of ongoing evictions). The Hanoun family is sleeping on the street, a few short paces from their family home of many generations. Police and border guards arrive as tensions rise. You can feel the tension as settlers gather in small groups and the evicted families and supporters say one of them has been attacked. The police appear to push back the settlers from getting too close. We observe quietly and listen to the young woman whose family is now on the street. She explains that they were forcibly awakened in the early morning and put out of their homes. No time to gather belongings, and personal items. It seems lawless here – and the sense of uncertainty is all around.

We also learned that Mohammad Khatid and five others have been arrested from the village of Bi’lin for incitement to “damage the security of the area”, http://palsolidarity.org/2009/08/7982 .

These are the villagers that have employed creative, non-violent strategies, against the barrier of the wall that dissects their village and land. We will be visiting the village. It seems hard to believe that Mohammad, who visited Parliament Hill and spoke with a few MPs, including me, in June is now in jail.

As you enter Jerusalem from the Allenby bridge the vista of illegal settlements on just about every hill top is surreal.

We will be visiting the village tomorrow.