Around the Tomb of Abraham

We meet them in the middle of the Old City of Hebron. They're there for a rotating three month assignment under the auspices of the World Council of Churches - EAPPI (Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel). Joy (I'd guess in her late 70s), from Chicago; Åsild (again a guess in her early 20s) a Norwegian from Denmark. They take it in turns to explain a little of the history and current setup of a city that dates back to Abraham and where David began his rule.
Arabs and Jews lived together for centuries, but the 1929 massacre of 67 Jews prompted the British to evacuate them (for safety's sake?) The Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967 saw the return of the first Jewish settlers into both the Old City, some of them perched above the markets, and also in large settlements on the surrounding hills. Then in 1994 came the killing of 30 worshippers in the Al Abrahami Mosque. Hundreds died in the riots that followed. The Hebron Accord was drawn up and the city was divided into numerous patches, H1 (Palestinian) and H2 (Jews), apart from categories A,B and C indicating varying degrees of control by the Palestinian Authority. This makes up the jigsaw that is Hebron. Palestinians are generally barred from entry into Jewish sectors. There are check points and gates everywhere.
The mosque is now also divided, one part becoming a synagogue. Both religions are able to view the covering over the tomb of Abraham. Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah are also buried here.
It's Shabbat today, so apart from walking to synagogue the Jewish sectors are quiet, though the security forces (numbering three or four times that of settlers) are active as we walk streets once the main commercial sector of the city, but now derelict and sealed up.
Passages, lanes and staircases take us to the home of Mohammed and his family, where we are served a chicken and rice lunch. He tells us he's blacklisted, and that there's a case against his father even though his shop was extensively damaged by a group of settlers. But he smiles and jokes as he speaks. Is that the best way to cope with it all? 'We're determined to stay despite the harassment,' he says.
Joy and Åsild tell about their work, 'accompanying the Palestinian people.' To get to school, many teachers and children have to cross gates in the wall or checkpoints in the city. The same is true for agricultural workers. EAPPI are authorised to monitor the Israeli military at these points and to report any human rights violations to their respective missions.
Do I feel a rumbling underfoot? Is that perhaps Abraham turning in his grave, disturbed, for both Jews and Arabs are his children? No, it's the Israeli military. They're driving their jeep down the cobbled street. They must be back from lunch.