• November 24, 2004
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    Daughter of American judge beaten in West Bank
Daughter of American judge beaten in West Bank Kim Lamberty, 44, the daughter of District Judge Patricia Lamberty and Lou Lamberty of Omaha, suffered a broken arm and a knee injury that left her unable to walk, her mother said.

After being treated at a hospital, Kim Lamberty moved to a friend's home in Jerusalem, where she is recovering. She met with doctors Thursday.

"We have talked to her, and her spirits are fine," Judge Lamberty said of her oldest child and only daughter. "She's shaken, but her spirits are fine."

The other volunteer - Chris Brown of San Francisco - remained hospitalized in Beer Sheva, in Israel's Negev Desert, and his condition was stable, said Mark Frey, a staff member at the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Two of the children the Americans were walking to school were injured by rocks in the attack, said volunteer Diane Janzen, a Canadian working with Lamberty and Brown in the embattled territory.

Janzen characterized the children's injuries as minor but said the incident left Palestinian families and the international volunteers shaken.

"It was a planned ambush," she said. "The men who attacked were all dressed in black. They had their faces covered."

Two other volunteers replaced Lamberty and Brown on Thursday's half-hour walks on a dirt road between the tiny village of Tuba and the larger town of al-Tuwani.

The walks were peaceful, Janzen said - Israeli police officers stationed at a nearby Jewish settlement kept watch. But there was confusion down the road when the group was told by an Israeli military unit that their protection couldn't be guaranteed.

Janzen said soldiers told her colleagues the children shouldn't be on that road. The only other way to school, she said, is a 10-kilometer hike over rough terrain.

In the eight years that Christian Peacemaker Teams have been in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, volunteers have experienced assaults and intimidation - even death threats - from extremist Jewish settlers, Frey said.

"Nothing this aggressive or brutal," he said of Wednesday's attack.

After her release from the Beer Sheva hospital, Kim Lamberty told the Jerusalem Post how Wednesday's walk turned violent.

"Chris and I both started to run," she said. "They caught me quickly, choked me, threw me to the ground and then beat me."

The assailants grabbed Lamberty's waist pack, taking her money, passport and cell phone, her mother said.

She was able to call for help on Brown's cell phone after the attackers fled into a tree-filled hilltop near the Maon settlement.

Rich Meyer, spokesman for the Hebron-based Christian Peacemaker Teams, said Jewish settlers were responsible for the attack.

He said "settler violence against Palestinians is . . . a common problem. In this area, it has escalated."

Settler youths believed to be from Maon, which is near Hebron, are "quite aggressive," Meyer said, and try to disrupt the lives of the Palestinians in an area inside the West Bank.

Lamberty's group is working in villages that probably will end up on the Israeli side of the wall being built to separate the Palestinians and Israelis, Meyer said.

Because area children have been harassed this month, villagers asked for help from international groups. Christian Peacemaker Teams is one of three groups that began work Sept. 12 in al-Tuwani, he said.

Judge Lamberty wasn't surprised that her daughter, who runs adult education programs and the social justice ministry at a Catholic church in Silver Spring, Md., signed up to help.

A graduate of Omaha's Sacred Heart School and the old Ryan High School, Kim Lamberty earned degrees from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Columbia University in New York and Washington Theological Union in Washington, D.C.

She is fluent in Russian and has worked for the U.S. State Department, spending time in Moscow. Seven years ago, she began her job with St. John the Baptist Catholic Church. Her husband runs a Washington, D.C., homeless shelter.

Lamberty completed training with the Christian Peacemaker Teams this spring, and the stint in Israel is her first for the group. She visited Omaha in July and left in August for Israel.

Her parents were concerned, but Judge Lamberty said they recognized that their daughter was committed to her work.

"She's strong and she's smart and she's 44 years old," Lamberty said. "She cares deeply about the fact that there's too much violence in the world."