One reason is that the market is part of our daily patrol. We walk by and see if there are any problems with soldiers or settlers. Another reason is because it is where we buy a lot of our food, and of course when we go home, souvenirs.
The most important reason- for me- is to see our Palestinian friends. The shopkeepers in the Old City are great friends, and they are an important part of our lives. They invite us to sit down at their store to drink cup after cup of black coffee and very sugary tea, and to talk. Even when they know we won't be buying anything during our visit, they still invite us. They give us tips on how to get to places and where to buy things for good deals. We laugh and drink (tea and coffee) and learn from each other.
The shopkeepers, like many other Palestinians, don't have it easy. Settlers throw garbage and waste on them from below, and soldiers come through the market daily. Due to the current political instability and lack of visitors (who rarely come anyways), business is suffering, and a lot of our friends are struggling a lot to make ends meet.
Yet they stay. Neither the settlers or the soldiers are able to chase them away, nor the economic hardships caused by the latest wave of violence and death to hit this suffering land. By not leaving their homes and their shops, by continuing to live in dignity and not allowing the occupation to destroy them; the Palestinian shopkeepers in the souq and in all of H2 Hebron and in all parts of the Holy Land where they are occupied, continue to resist the campaign to dehumanize them and drive them from their homes. In spite of the humiliating settler tours that pass through their market and the urine and water and bleach that is thrown on them and the soldiers who go by there and can at times be very brutal and the economic hardships they now are facing... they choose to stay.
They will not be bullied, driven out, defeated, or destroyed. They stay and carry on. Their friendliness, hospitality, and dignity are unchanged; despite everything that is being done against them and their people.
To survive is also to resist.
May God bless them in this struggle, and may more people come to support and stand in solidarity with them.
The pictures below are of only some of the Palestinian shopkeepers who we have been blessed to befriend.
A brief interview with Jamal, who sells fabrics in the souq and who is a good friend of ISMers and other internationals operating in Hebron.