Old City, old story: a case for eviction in Jerusalem?


by the Jerusalem team,

Nora Sub Laban was born in 1956 and has lived in her home in the heart of the Muslim Quarter of the Old City all her life. Her family has lived in this house, since 1953. Now, she tells us, Israeli settlers are pushing for her eviction so that a Jewish settler family can move in. Nora, lives here with her family of nine, including grandchildren – they are the last remaining Palestinian family on the street.

Jerusalem Al-Khalidiyya St (Sub Laban family Photo EAPPI/K.Cargin

2015 East Jerusalem, Al-Khalidiyya St EA visits Sub Laban family home in Muslim Quarter. Photo EAPPI/K.Cargin

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Hebron: The love of learning kills the fear


By Rajesh in the Hebron team, 

I woke up at 6 am. It’s Sunday morning. Today a new school week starts. I ask the taxi driver to drop me off at Al Qarantina Street in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron. From here I have to pass an open area of land with olive trees and a Muslim cemetery. This is the safest way to reach Cordoba school, where I give almost daily protective presence to schoolchildren with EAPPI.

06.11.15 Hebron H2. Children going to Cordoba school greet EAs. Photo EAPPI/H. Griffiths

06.11.15 Hebron H2. Children going to Cordoba school greet EAs. Photo EAPPI/H. Griffiths

Established in 1971, Cordoba school is located H2 – the Israeli controlled zone – just across from the Israeli settlements of Beit Hadassah and Beit Romano. Today the school has 16 teachers all of whom are women. Cordoba’s148 students are divided into 9 classes. In Cordoba school girls and boys are in mixed classes up to 6th grade and it has single sex classes for girls up to 9th grade. In the past, teachers and children have had frequent problems with settler violence and harassment and the school has been vandalised on a number of occasion. For example settlers attempted to burn down the school twice in 2007 and in 2008. Settlers also uprooted trees that the students planted in front of the school in August 2010 and in December 2011 a 12-year-old settler child tried to attack a Palestinian student of the same age with a knife at the bottom of the school stairs.

08:04:15 Hebron EA monitor access to Cordoba school, Photo EAPPI:I.Tanner

08:04:15 Hebron EA monitor access to Cordoba school, Photo EAPPI/I. Tanner

This makes EAPPI’s presence important, as it overall gives confidence and a sense of security to the children on their way to and from school and may prevent settler attacks and harassment.

In the last week of October 2015 four Palestinians were killed in H2 close to Cordoba school, including a young man just below the school stairs. On the 29th of October the Israeli army declared the whole of Tel Rumeida and Shuhada Street a closed military zone, meaning that only residents whos names had been recorded on a soldier’s checklist were allowed to enter (in some cases even residents of Shuhada Street were denied entry).  This restriction on movement lasted until 19 November. Shuhada Street was previously the main street and economic centre of Hebron but has turned into a ghost town after being closed by the Israeli authorities in 1997. This is the main road through which the students and teachers access Cordoba school.

24.08.15_Hebron H2, Shuhada Street Protective presence Photo EAPPI R. Leme

24.08.15 Hebron H2, EA walk along the deserted Shuhada Street EA. Photo EAPPI/R. Leme

EAs monitor ‘the school run’ to Cordoba school on an ongoing basis. This means being present at schools and taking steps to ensuring children reach school safely. This involves accompanying children as they walk to school in militarized areas recording the numbers of school children and teachers passing the checkpoints as well as reporting any delays or difficulties they face. Since we arrived we have observed numerous restriction on children’s rights to access education such as delays at check points, bag checks, body search, child detentions and arrests among others.

071015 Hebron Palestinian child being detained by Israeli soldiers at CheckPoint 56. Photo EAPPI/H. Griffiths

07.10.15 Hebron Palestinian child being detained by Israeli soldiers at CheckPoint 56. Photo EAPPI/H. Griffiths

Normally we (EAs) stand at checkpoint 56 and at checkpoint 55 on Shuhada Street but after it was declared a closed military zone we were no longer allowed to enter the street. This meant that we could not offer protective presence to students and teachers passing the checkpoints. This inhibited our ability to monitor and report on human the impact of this movement restriction.

06.11.15 Hebron H2. Cordoba school principal Nora Nasar. Photo EAPPI/H. Griffiths

06.11.15 Hebron H2. Cordoba school principal Nora Nasar. Photo EAPPI/H. Griffiths

This morning we had the opportunity to meet the principal Nora Nasar and some of the students who attend Cordoba school. Nora tells us, that both students and teachers are more scared and therefore walk together in groups when going to and from school. I am afraid of settlers and scared of soldiers. They try to scare us by pointing their guns at us and stamping their feet. Settlers also drive very fast past us,” says 10-year-old Qusai. The children are particularly afraid of settler attacks, as 11-year-old Munib expresses: “I am afraid of settlers and being kidnapped by them”.

06.11.15 Hebron H2. Cordoba school children (from left to right) Hazem, Munib and Qusai. Photo EAPPI/H. Griffiths

06.11.15 Hebron H2. Cordoba school children (from left to right) Hazem, Munib and Qusai. Photo EAPPI/H. Griffiths

As a consequence of this tense situation, the children’s performance in school is negatively affected. According to Nora, the children are more sensitive to loud or sudden sounds and get lower marks as they have lower levels of concentration. In addition, the children face several psychosocial problems like low self-esteem, nightmares, lack of sleep and bedwetting. Every time an incident like a shooting happens, school attendance is reduced as the children become more afraid, and the school is forced to close earlier than normal resulting in several classes being cancelled.

Despite these challenges, the teachers are trying to encourage the children and the school counsellor empowers students to cope with the daily struggles they face. As Nora says: We continue our education no matter what. The love of learning kills the fear.”     On the 19 November the closed military zone in H2 and the related movement restrictions were lifted. EAPPI and other international human rights monitors continue to accompany children to school in Hebron in order to ensure their right to safe access to education despite occupation.

Please take action to help enhance Palestinian school children’s access to education by clicking on the box below:

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More information:

Since April 2012, EAPPI, in cooperation with international organisations, has monitored access to education for children in the West Bank. In 2015, Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) are providing protective presence and accompaniment to some 3,500 students and 300 teachers by monitoring nine schools as well as six checkpoints that children pass on a daily basis on their way to and from school. The presence of EAs deters soldiers and settlers from harassing children and help children to reach school safely. 

EAPPI Fact sheet: Creating a safe environment despite occupation 

B’Tselem: New restrictions on movement in Hebron and environs disrupt lives and constitute prohibited collective punishment

Access restrictions: a case of emergency


by the Jerusalem team,

The situation on the ground in occupied East Jerusalem has deteriorated in the last month; violence has escalated and the atmosphere here is tense. October was characterized by demonstrations, violent clashes, and attacks against civilians that left 69 Palestinians and eight Israelis dead and more than 7,300 Palestinians and 115 Israelis injured. In this same period the Israeli military installed new checkpoints and road blocks on the access points to Palestinian communities living in East Jerusalem. A number of these new checkpoints have been set up in the area around the Mount of Olives. The Israeli Authorities say that it is for security reason but the question arises: for whose security and what are the consequence of these movement restrictions? Continue reading

Voices rise above the wall


by EA Tone.

This autumn the annual olive harvest takes place despite the escalation of violence in Israel and occupied Palestine. The harvest is an unbroken tradition of land cultivation which has been passed on from one generation to another. However this November brings an olive harvest without trees for local landowner Issa al Shatleh. It is now over three months since the Israeli contractors began clearing the ancient olive groves in the Cremisan valley to make way for the expanding separation wall. EA Tone, recently returned to Europe, writes about the events she witnessed and the stories she heard behind the wall in Bethlehem. 

“What will the Nativity church be if there are no Christians left in the area? The stones will be without spirit and soul.”  Issa al Shatleh laments

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A “Stop Work Order” for a Completed House: A Kafkaesque Story


By the Jordan Valley team, 

12.10.15. Jordan Valley, Humsa. Mahmod with the orders given to him. EAPPI / J. Puukki

12.10.15. Jordan Valley, Humsa. Mahmod with the  stop work orders issued to him by the Israeli authorities. Photo EAPPI/J. Puukki

This is Mahmod. He lives in a herding community in the north of the Jordan Valley. Mahmod lives with his family of eight, this includes two sons, two daughters, his daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren. The family earns their livelihood by herding sheep and keeping other animals, such as chickens. They used to live in a concrete house, which provided a living space for the family and a shelter for their animals. In October 2014 the family received a “stop work order” from the Israeli authorities despite having finished their home three years before. Because they failed to “stop the construction” on a home that was already completed, their home was demolished in August 2015 by the Israeli military.

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Home sweet home in firing zone 918


by the South Hebron Hills team.

It is six o’clock in the morning, and day is about to break over the valley below. In the distance, the foothills of the Negev emerge above the mist. All is quiet and peaceful in Ziad’s tiny homestead, where we have just spent the night.  Only the hollering of the jackals and the barking of a lone dog interrupted the silence of last night. Ziad arose well before daybreak to say his two morning prayers, as is his religious custom. He has worked tirelessly all morning feeding fodder and maize to his one hundred and twenty sheep.

He lives by himself in a very small simple cave and he seems satisfied with its rudimentary comfort it offers. Electricity comes from solar panels and water is collected in cisterns. A local NGO has built a toilet cubicle adjacent to the house. A few olive trees and a fig tree are planted next to the small platform where Ziad sits when he rests for a moment. A small paradise on earth, one may think and yet a closer look at life in this area reveals that it is far from ideal…

13-10-15 South Hebron Hills Bir al Idd Breakfast after overnight protective presence Abu Tariq EAPPI BG. Saltnes

13.10.15 South Hebron Hills, Bir al Idd, Abu Tariq and EA share breakfast after overnight protective presence Photo EAPPI BG. Saltnes

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Letter to WCC member churches in Israel and Palestine


WCC logoLetter from the World Council of Churches (WCC) general secretary Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit  to WCC member churches in Palestine and Israel concerning the renewed wave of violence in Jerusalem.  19 October 2015

Greetings in the name of Jesus Christ – our Lord and Saviour, the Prince of Peace, the child of Bethlehem.

I write to you at a time of renewed violence between the peoples in the land of Christ’s birth, to commend the witness of our Christian sisters and brothers in Palestine and Israel, and to express the concern and solidarity of the global ecumenical fellowship represented in the World Council of Churches. We are following with increasing dismay events throughout the region and especially in the Holy City of Jerusalem, which we hold in our hearts and prayers as an open city of two peoples (Israelis and Palestinians) and three faiths (Judaism, Christianity and Islam). We continue to work and pray for a just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis, promoting respect for the status quo of the holy sites of Jerusalem as an important contribution to reducing current tensions.

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PHOTO ESSAY: Israeli military presence in the city of Hebron


by the Hebron Team.

The conflict between Israel and Palestine is very visible in the city of Hebron due to its division into two parts H1 and H2. The city has been divided since 1997 and it is the only city on the West bank, except for East Jerusalem, where Israeli settlers and Israeli military  live and operate in the city centre. H1 is administered by the Palestinian authority and H2 the smaller part of the city is under Israeli military control. Several areas in H2 are restricted for Palestinians and especially those close to Israeli settlements.

The images below offer an insight into what life is like for Palestinians living under military occupation and give a glimpse of the harsh realities that they face on a daily basis.

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Video: Two women, a deviding wall and a uniting hope


by Norwegian Church Aid.

Build bridges not walls: World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel

September 20th – 26th 2015

Two women, Palestinian Clemance Handal and Israeli Hanna Barag discuss the separation wall, its purpose, its effects and their hope for its eventual dismantling.

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Open Letter to world leaders from a Bishop in Jerusalem and a refugee


1 September, Jerusalem

Dear leaders of the world and people of good conscience,

Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

I write to you from Jerusalem to address the very serious refugee situation affecting countries across the Middle East and now Europe. I myself am a refugee, as well as a bishop. Both my faith and my history oblige me to speak up for these women, men, and children who are washing up on beaches, are found decomposing in trucks on the highway, are crossing borders of barbed wire, and are barely surviving in makeshift camps.

The last weeks have seen not only an increase in the numbers of these refugees, but also an increase in tragic outcomes for many. This is a shameful situation, and one which the international community cannot ignore. It must be remembered that refugees are not vacationers. They did not leave their homes because they were looking for adventure. They are displaced as a result of poverty, violence, terror, and political conflict. Frustration and fear lead them to risk their lives and their life-savings in search of safe havens where they can live and raise families in peace. We must remember that these are not “waves” or “masses” or “hordes”—these are human beings who deserve dignity and respect.

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World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel: #WallWillFall


The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches invites member churches, faith-based communities, and civil society organizations around the world to join together in 2015 for a week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel. Congregations and individuals around the globe who share the hope of justice shall unite during the week to take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international public witness.

The theme of the week in 2015, to be observed during 20-26 September, is:

“God has broken down the dividing walls”(Ephesians 2:14)

06-12-14, I. Tanner. Childrens paitings on playground walls. Zbeidat, Jericho

06-12-14, Jericho,Zbeidat, I. Tanner. Childrens paitings of the separation wall, on playground walls. Photo EAPPI / I.Tanner

How to get involved

As participants in the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, from 20 to 26 September 2015, churches around the world shall send a clear signal to policy-makers, community groups, and their own parishes about the urgent need for a peace settlement that ends the illegal occupation and secures the legitimate rights and future of both peoples.

5_6_2015 CP300 Bethlehem Wall Prayer with icon and Clemence hoouse Photo H Jonsson EAPPI

05.06.15 Bethlehem, Checkpoint 300. EAs joins locals and internationals to pray for an peace at the weekly Wall Prayer. Photo EAPPI/ H. Jonsson

Pray, Educate, Advocate

Already, planning has begun for the World Week for Peace 2015, during which participants will organize and join in events and activities around the following three principles:

1. Praying with churches living under occupation, using a special prayer from Jerusalem and other worship resources prepared for the week.
2. Educating about actions that make for peace, and about facts on the ground that do not create peace, especially issues related to prisoners.
3. Advocating with political leaders using ecumenical policies that promote peace with justice.

06.07.00 Qalandia checkpoint, Palestinian woman held in queue at checkpoint on her way to Jerusalem. Photo EAPPI / J. Griffin

06.07.00 Qalandia checkpoint, Palestinian woman held in queue at checkpoint on her way to Jerusalem. Photo EAPPI / J. Griffin


This annual observance of a week of prayer, education, and advocacy calls participants to work for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine, so that Palestinians and Israelis can finally live in peace. It has been 66 years since the creation of the State of Israel. This has not led to the creation of an independent Palestinian state but has only deepened the tragedy of the Palestinian people. It is now 47 years since the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza overwhelmed the peaceful vision of one land, two peoples.

Bethlehem Gilo 11, 31.10.07

31.10.07, Bethlehem, Gilo 300 terminal, Palestinains on their way to work queue at checkpoint 300 Photo EAPPI

Yet the dream of one nation cannot be fulfilled at the expense of another.

23.11.13. Tulkaram, Children living on the hill of the Ras at Tira village with settlement Alfe Menashe in the background. Photo EAPPI /Elina

23.11.13. Tulkaram, Children living on the hill of the Ras at Tira village with settlement Alfe Menashe in the background. Photo EAPPI /Elina

The action week’s message is that now:

  • It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.
  • It’s time for freedom from occupation.
  • It’s time for equal rights.
  • It’s time for the healing of wounded souls.

Wonderful worship and educational resources are available in different languages – please make them part of your church events. In social media, please use the hashtag #WallWillFall to talk about this year’s World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel.

*Source: World Council of Churches website


World Council of Churches: World Week for Peace 2015: resources

Pax Christi: resources

EAPPI Australia: New resources for World Week For Peace and two Action Alerts

The Separation Barrier: background, statistics and case-studies  produced B’tselem

The Jerusalem Prayer

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Uprooted lives: Christians protest the construction of the wall in the Cremisan


By the Bethlehem team.

On August 17 Israeli soldiers and security personnel supervised the the bulldozing of land and the uprooting of over 100 ancient olive trees in the Bir Ouma. Many of the trees that were uprooted were as old as 1500 years old. The land is being cleared to facilitate the routing of the separation wall through the Cremisan Valley. The planned route for the wall is three kilometers inside the 1949 Armistice ‘green line’ and is set to be built on privately owned Palestinian land in Beit Jala.The clearing of the land is taking place despite a previous court ruling and without any warning being given to the local landowners. Local Christians have been gathering daily at the site of the bulldozing to protest the illegal confiscation of their land and to pray for the protection of the Cremisan Valley.

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E1: The End of the Dream for a Palestinian State?


by Jerusalem Team.

The Israeli authorities plan to expand the settlement Ma’ale Adumim and connect it to Jerusalem was approved by the Israeli government 1999. The plan, commonly referred to as the E1 Plan, has long been opposed by the international community as an obstacle to the realization of the two-state solution. Several events that have taken place in recent months indicate an acceleration of the implementation of this plan.

15.08.15, E1 area, Ma’ale Adumim and Jabal Al Baba, Atallah Mazarah Photo EAPPI

15.08.15, Jerusalem, E1 area, Ma’ale Adumim settlement and Jabal Al Baba Bedouin community. Photo EAPPI/A. Mazarah

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Harassment in the Hebron Hills


by South Hebron Hills Team.

Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli military and civilian control since the Oslo Accords of 1993, is dotted with Bedouin villages. Many of the Bedouin currently living in Palestine fled there in 1948 from their ancestral lands in the Negev Desert as the newly-founded State of Israel pushed its way into the Negev. The Bedouin purchased land from the local people and initially were able to continue their simple farming – growing crops and shepherding.

Since 1967 when Israel began to occupy the West Bank, Area C has also become dotted with Israeli settlements, the building of which is illegal under Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention, a convention ratified by the State of Israel.

30.07.15 . South Hebron Hills, Um al Kher next to Karmel settlement. Photo EAPPI / S. Lise Bedringaas

30.07.15 . South Hebron Hills, Um al Kher next to Karmel settlement. Photo EAPPI / S. Lise Bedringaas

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Video: ‘The Struggle to Save Susiya’


This video looks back on the summer months and gives a brief insight into ‘the struggle to save Susiya‘. It features interviews with Nasser Nawaja, a local peace activist and resident of Susiya.

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Settler violence and impunity in the West Bank


by the Yanoun team.

On the 31st of July, 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsheh was burned to death in a fatal arson attack on his family home in the Northern West Bank village of Duma. Israelis from a nearby settlement are believed to be behind the attack which saw two Palestinian homes torched by petrol bombs.  Ali’s parents and 4-year-old brother survived the attack but were taken to the hospital in a critical condition. Sadly on the 8th of August Saad, Ali’s father, died from third degree burns just one week after his son. Two members of the family are still in a critical condition. The family living in the second house were not at home when the attack happened.

31.07.15 Nablus, Duma. Leaflet dedicated to Ali distributed during funeral ceremony, Photo EAPPI / J. Burkhalter

31.07.15 Nablus, Duma. Leaflet dedicated to Ali distributed during funeral ceremony, Photo EAPPI / J. Burkhalter

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EA Poem: “The sound of an early morning in Susiya”


by Leif Magne Helgesen, Summer team,

10.07.15. South Hebron Hills, Susiya, Watering olives at dawn, Photo EAPPI / P. Mercer

10.07.15. South Hebron Hills, Susiya, Palestinian farmer watering his olive trees at dawn, Photo EAPPI / P. Mercer

The morning is full of sound

dogs barking

roosters crowing incessantly

a donkey gives a full throated bray

A butterfly breaks the sound barrier

it flys quietly and disappears

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Statement of Bishop Munib A. Younan concerning the arson in Tabgha


Statement of Bishop Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land concerning the arson in Tabgha.

Tiberias, July 14, 2015

Bishop Munib A. Younan

Bishop Munib A. Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land

Dear Fathers,
We have come from Jerusalem to stand in solidarity with the brother monks of this monastery after the arson and burning of this historic Church. The atrocity is not only against you and this particular church vicinity, but against every Christian and believer in the One True God, and must be denounced vehemently. This Church was built on the real story of the blessing of the loaves and fish, and despite the atrocity against it, it will survive the hatred and will remain a spiritual haven and blessing to all who enter its doors.

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When children are treated like criminals


by Ingrid, Bethlehem team,

Now back in Norway, EA Ingrid spent much of her recent service in the Palestinian village of Husan, north of the Etzion Bloc settlement, in the Bethleham Governorate. This blog highlights the problem of child detention and arrests in the area.

I write this blog to bring attention to an event that really scared me and which I thought was abnormal. While preparing this post I was also attempting to write a report on the events I had witnessed that week. Ideally the report would have been completed the evening before. Ideally it would have made organizations and individuals that work in this field offer immediate assistance to the victims. But there are very few ‘ideal’ situations here in Israel/Palestine, and what is considered normal here is far from ‘normal’ back home. Incidents are so many that the Bethlehem team cannot cover them all, and our plans change every hour. Planned topics for blog posts and newsletters are thus postponed for more urgent topics, like this one:

Early on a Monday morning, an incident was reported forcing us to postpone our plans for the day and go to a village that we had already visited eight times. I wish that the reason for going to the village of Husan for the ninth time in four weeks had been a different one. I wish that the idyllic scenery seen from our local contact’s balcony and the pleasant breakfasts shared with his neighbors had been the reasons for this visit, but we were called to Husan for a very different reason. Once again, minors had been arrested in Husan by the Israeli military. The phone call I received about the night’s detentions, in Husan, made my head spin. I thought to myself:

‘What can a 15-year-old boy possibly have done that demands he is detained in the middle of the night?’.
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Susiya: ‘another day of seeking and working for a just peace’


by EA Rev. D. Etherington​, Susiya

Just 14 months ago, I said my goodbyes to the residents of Susiya.  And now I have returned to this village in the South Hebron Hills as it faces threats of imminent demolition and a forced removal of all those living here. I have returned to Susiya at the invitation of the World Council of Churches to be part of a team of internationals providing ecumenical accompaniment and protective presence to the village in hopes that a demolition and removal may be put off.

02.07.15 Susiya. Abu Jihad with his grandchildren, July 2015, photo EAPPI by L. Magne Helgesen

02.07.15 Susiya. Abu Jihad with his grandchildren, July 2015, Photo EAPPI / L. Magne Helgesen

My arrival in Susiya coincided with the first day of Ramadan, the most holy time in the Muslim year, a time of fasting for the month. This month of fasting begins with the daily call to prayer in the pre-dawn hours and ends at the sunset call to prayer. This period of Ramadan will end July 18 and is a time of reflection and reformation of the soul.

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Accessing worship: This year’s Ramadan part II


by the Yanoun team,

As we feared, the Israeli Civil Authority did place further restrictions on those able to come to pray in Jerusalem on Friday. On 3rd of July, the age limit for men to pass without a permit was raised from 40 to 50, and instead of all women being allowed—only women over 30 could pass without a permit. This was widely seen as “collective punishment”.   One Palestinian man said:

“Where does it say in the Torah, the Koran or the Bible that you have to be over 50 to pray”.

19.06.15. Bethlehem. Checkpoint 300  Young man denied access to Jerusalem during Ramadan. Photo EAPPI / I. Tanner

19.06.15. Bethlehem. Checkpoint 300 Young man denied access to Jerusalem during Ramadan. Photo EAPPI / I. Tanner

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PRESS RELEASE: Israeli Court Gives Green Light for the Wall in the Cremisan Valley


logo-St-YvesThe Israeli Supreme Court Gives the Green Light to Begin Building the Separation Wall in the Cremisan Valley.

The Israeli Supreme Court issued a decision on Monday, the 6th of July 2015, giving the Israeli Ministry of Defense the green light to begin building the separation wall in the Cremisan Valley in Beit Jala. This ruling limits the effect of the Court’s previous decision to stop building the separation wall in Cremisan, whereby the decision to stop building the wall will only be limited to the surroundings of the Salesian Sister’s Convents, represented by the Society of St. Yves, and the Salesian Monk’s Monastery, represented by Adv. Nihad Irsheid as well as the church’s private land. The decision ruled that the Israeli authorities will initiate building the wall on the privately ownedlands of the people of Beit Jala; thereby leaving-out only a small section, hundreds of meters in length and adjacent to the Salesian monasteries and their land.

05.06.15 Beit Jala, Overlooking Cremisan Valley, Gilo settlement background. Photo EAPPI / I.Tanner

05.06.15 Beit Jala, Overlooking Cremisan Valley, Gilo settlement background. Photo EAPPI / I.Tanner

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Accessing worship: This year’s Ramadan part I


by the Yanoun team,

On the 18th of June Muslims all over the world, including in Palestine and Israel, started the holy month of Ramadan. During this month Muslims fast during the light hours of the day in solidarity with the suffering of the poor, and they dedicate themselves to prayers. As Jerusalem is the third holiest city for Muslims, many Palestinians wish to visit the Holy City to pray.

19.06.15. Bethlehem. Checkpoint 300  Muslims on their way to Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the first Friday of Ramadan. Photo EAPPI / I. Tanner

19.06.15. Bethlehem Checkpoint 300, Muslims on their way to Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque during the first Friday of Ramadan. Photo EAPPI / I. Tanner

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EA song: ‘Come and take a walk with me’


This song was written by Emma about her experience as an Ecumenical Accompanier in Jerusalem this Spring. She filled the church of St Andrews with her moving rendition of this song during the handover ceremony of group 56. We thank all our EAs, especially those who just returned home, for their unique contributions and work towards a just peace and reconciliation in the Holy Land.

15.06.15 Jerusalem. Group 56 handover ceremony at St Andrews Church, Photo EAPPI I.Tanner

15.06.15 Jerusalem. Group 56 handover ceremony at St Andrews Church, Photo EAPPI I.Tanner

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The Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations


This statement is based on a letter the Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations sent to the Permanent Representative of every Member State mission to the United Nations in New York on Wednesday 17th June 2015.

The Israel-Palestine NGO Working Group at the United Nations expresses its profound concern over the Israeli Government’s imminent plans to forcibly relocate or transfer Indigenous Bedouin communities in the Negev, in Israel, as well as in areas of the West Bank that are under exclusive Israeli jurisdiction: areas categorized by the Oslo Accords as Area C. While the political realities in these locations differ, the legal repercussions faced by these Indigenous Bedouin communities are similar: they face the forced relocation or transfer from their homes and the expropriation of their land by Israeli planning authorities.
We are troubled to learn that plans for the forced relocation of 1,000 Indigenous Bedouins of Atir and Umm-al-Hiran in the Negev have been approved by Israel’s Supreme Court. Further plans to transfer Palestinian communities in Area C, such as Susiya where 170 structures are threatened with destruction and 350 people face the loss of their homes, are also going ahead.

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Harvesting in the line of fire


by the Jordan Valley team

From the 3rd to the 7th of May, large-scale military training took place across the Jordan Valley, greatly affecting the everyday life of the Palestinian inhabitants. Significantly, 56% of the Jordan Valley is now a designated military zone and Israeli military train here regularly throughout the year – despite the fact that about 2700 people live in these areas.

“Where is the UN? Where is France, Germany and the UK? Where are all the journalists? The whole world should be here to see this!”

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PHOTO ESSAY: The life of a child under occupation in Hebron


This gallery contains 2 photos.

by the Hebron team, Life is very difficult for many of the Palestinians living in the Israeli controlled part of Hebron. Significant military presence, harassment by settlers and restriction on movement are everyday occurrences. As an EA living in the … Continue reading

Susiya: a village under threat of demolition


by Paivi, South Hebron Hills team

Flags are fluttering in the breeze and the children still play in the little village of Susiya in the South Hebron Hills, but the immediate future is fraught with fears and dangers. The Israeli High Court of Justice has swept aside the last legal obstacles to the complete demolition of this Palestinian village in Area C of the West Bank, under full Israeli control. The threat of displacement has not crushed the villagers’ spirit: rather the four hundred or so residents are doing whatever they can to save their homes.

150514 P Moore Susiya people try to keep their spirits high despite of fears of eviction

13/05/15. South Hebron Hills. Residents try to keep their spirits high despite of fears of eviction in the village of Susiya, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore

13/05/15. South Hebron Hills. Children play on swings in the village of Susiya, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore

13/05/15. South Hebron Hills. Children play on swings in the village of Susiya, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore

The village of Khirbet Susiya has existed on this land for centuries, but everything changed in 1986, when archaeologists found “evidence” of an ancient synagogue on the site. The residents were evicted and they sought a new place to live on their own grazing lands nearby. However, an Israeli settlement has been built in the same location, and now the farmers and shepherds of Khirbet Susiya are facing imminent expulsion once again. We EAs are spending days and even nights in the village to monitor the tense situation and provide protective presence.

13/05/15. South Hebron Hills. Flags are fluttering in the village of Susiya, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore

13/05/15. South Hebron Hills. Flags are fluttering in the village of Susiya, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore

Khirbet Susiya’s residents need your help and support.

Take action box 2

Please Stand with Susiya and sign B’Tselem’s petition here. 

On the 10th of May the Civil Administration began ‘mapping’ Susiya – residents here fear imminent demolition. Click here to learn more.

You can help their cause by sharing their story and spreading their appeal through social media using #SaveSusiya.

PHOTO ESSAY: scenes from military training in Tawayel


by the Yanoun team

On the 19th of April 2015, eighteen army tanks, with their corresponding military supports arrived in the fields of Tell al Khashaba. A week later, additional military vehicles and helicopters came to the village and began military exercises. Farmers looked on in impotent horror as the tanks rolled up and down their fields and destroyed their crops. The crops, primarily grains such as wheat, are an important source of food and of income for the farmers. They plant once every two years, without this harvest they will struggle meet their basic needs.

Tanks Arrive in Tawayel, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI 20/04/2015

Tanks Arrive in Tawayel, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI 20/04/2015

R.Berg The Palestinians watch on unable to act

A local farmer watches the training, unable to prevent the destruction of his crops, Photo EAPPI R.Berg 03/05/2015

007 R.Berg Military training commences

Military Training by Israeli army in Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI/ R.Berg 03/05/2015

Tell al Khashaba, or Tawayel as it is commonly known, is a small village located in Area C of the Northern West Bank. The land surrounding the village was declared a Closed Military Zone by the Israeli government when it assumed full control of over 60% of the West Bank in 1995. The Israel army often conducts military training exercises on the agricultural land of local farmers.The villagers here live under the constant threat of eviction and house demolition for ‘military purposes’. These military exercises severely disrupts both the lives and livelihoods of the twenty one families living here.

005 R.Berg Farmers attempt to continue work

Farmers attempt to continue their work alongside tanks, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI/ R.Berg 03/05/2015

EA monitors as the army prepares for training, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI 20/04/2015

EA monitoring military training, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI/R.Berg 03/05/2015

006 R.Berg  Tractor vs tank

Farmers attempt to till to their fields alongside active tanks in Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI/ R.Berg 03/05/2015

004 R.Berg, villagers concerned over the training

Villagers whose fields were damaged during military training, Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI/ R.Berg 03/05/2015

Once again the villagers and their livelihoods have come under attack. The army gave no warning and ignored the farmer’s requests for them to conduct their training in a field, which did not have crops in it. Later that day they withdrew, to another location, in the Jordan Valley. The villagers pick up the pieces and wait for the next time, saying:

‘They cannot succeed because we have our soul in the ground, they can destroy the crops but they will not succeed in scaring us away’.

Farmers working their fields in Tawayel / Tell al Khashaba, Nablus. Photo EAPPI R.Berg 03/05/2015



Take action box 2

Write to your elected representatives and ask them to support the call from Palestinian Organisations to the EU and member states to ‘Act now on Israeli Military Training‘.



Open Letter from Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu


Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ

I send very warm greetings from Cape Town to you all.

Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentag is a special organization that occupies a special place in this old man’s heart.

It has played an exemplary and prophetic role in gently nudging modern Germany, with its powerful economy, towards using its power actively and compassionately for justice.

I remember how, in the 1980s, you struggled with your consciences over taking “a clear stand” against apartheid – and ultimately acted on your impulse to do the right thing, closing your accounts at Deutsche Bank over its dealings with South Africa. Thank you.

You understood how inter-connected we human beings are, our family ties, as it were – sisters and brothers as we all are in God’s family on

Today, many of us are concerned about the conflict in the Holy Land, a conflict with roots extending all the way back to World War II that contributes to a level of global insecurity the world has never experienced before.

Much as we condemn those who fire rockets from Palestine at civilian targets in Israel, Israel’s military assault on Gaza in response, last year, was not only cruelly disproportionate; it was also a brutal demonstration of Israel’s contempt for the people of Palestine.

The beliefs, ideological convictions and fears of leading voices on both sides of the equation – Israeli and Palestinian – are too extreme for them to be able to view the situation through a sufficiently wide prism to be able to stop the cycle of violence and hatred. There has been too much hurt.

The Conference Statement of the Kairos Palestine 5th Anniversary in December 2014 expressed deep concern about Israel’s ongoing and expanding occupation of Palestinian territory. In 2013, more settler homes were approved for construction on Palestinian land than in any year since 1967. The statement warned that repressive societal dynamics, on top of the continuing settlement policies, “make an independent state of Palestine existing in peace alongside the State of Israel almost impossible to imagine”.

The Kairos Palestine Document (Section 6 – Our word to the Churches of the world) urged churches “to stand alongside the oppressed and preserve the word of God as good news for all rather than turn it into a weapon with which to slay the oppressed”.

As South Africans and Germans, we arguably know better than most, from our own histories, what damage the authors of injustice and hatred inflict upon themselves. Those with the power to commit inhuman acts profoundly damage their own humanity.

Because of our special knowledge about human rights and justice, I believe that there is a particular onus on our countries to contribute to lasting peace and stability in the Holy Land. Is that not how families should work?

As Christians, it is our duty to side with the oppressed, the downtrodden, the poor, the prejudiced and unjustly treated – ALWAYS. There is no place for neutrality, because it favours the oppressors. Always.

Did the prophet Elijah not support Naboth over Ahab, the king of Israel,
who stole his land?

Does Psalm 99.4 not proclaim, “Mighty king, you love what is right; you have established justice in Israel; you have brought righteousness and fairness”?

In 2007, the World Council of Churches issued “The Amman Call”. The full text is too lengthy to include here, but, having heard the voices of the Christian churches of Palestine and Israel, it concluded with a number of challenges.

Christians were challenged to, “Act with us to liberate all peoples of this land from the logic of hatred, mutual rejection and death, so that they see in the other the face and dignity of God.”

And to:“Raise your voices along with ours as we speak “truth to power” and name with courage the injustices we see and experience. The illegal occupation has stolen two generations of lives in this tortured place, and threatens the next with hopelessness and rage.”

Last July, the World Council’s Central Committee issued the “Statement on Economic Measures and Christian Responsibility towards Israel and Palestine”. Brave and creative initiatives by the churches were needed, “to become better stewards of justice in economic affairs which link them to ongoing violations of international law in occupied territory”.

Finally, the Conference Statement, Kairos Palestine 5th Anniversary (2014) notes: “We commit to promoting in both churches and in our societies the Kairos call, which echoes Palestinian civil society demands, for the implementation of boycott, divestment, and sanctions as appropriate non-violent avenues of creative resistance until the illegal Israeli occupation is brought to an end.”

BDS is not antisemitism. Do business with Jews, organize with them, love them. But don’t support – militarily, economically or politically – the machinery of an apartheid-state. We can’t do business as normal because conditions in the Holy Land are totally abnormal.

Please tell your government that mere words of concern are insufficient. They don’t change anything. The appropriate response when confronting injustice is to take real steps to confront and eradicate it.

The late Richard von Weizsäcker, former President of Germany and President of the Kirchentag, demanded just this in a letter to the EU signed by many European elder statesmen in 2010.

Beware of anti-semitism, and all other forms of racism, but beware also of being cowed into silence by those who seek to stifle criticism of the oppressive politics of Israel by labeling you anti-Semitic.

I implore you to listen carefully to what Kairos Palestine is saying. Our Christian sisters and brothers in the Holy Land cannot use balanced synod statements expressing sympathy for oppressor and oppressed alike. They are asking all of our help to win their collective freedom back.

Please join the ecumenical Kairos movement and raise your voice in public solidarity to liberate Palestine so that Israel can be free, too.

Thank you, and God bless you all.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu
Cape Town, South Africa

Open letter from Archbishop Emeritius Desmond Tutu to Deutscher Evangelischer Kirchentage.

Source: http://desmondtutu.org/

It’s all about land


by the South Hebron Hills Team

We recently went on an excursion into the countryside with Nasser Nawaja a local contact and resident of Susiya. Nasser is a field researcher in the South Hebron Hills for B’Tselem an Israeli-Palestinian human rights organisation. Through his work he knows the fragmented pastures around Yatta like the back of his hand. While touring with Nasser he pointed out a number of restricted “security zones” around the settlements and explained how the grazing land is divided up between Palestinians and Israeli settlers. The first thought that struck me, while he spoke, was that there really should be no “division” as such, nor any dispute over who goes where; the UN has after all officially recognized Palestine as a country.

Photo EAPPI/ P. Moore

Hilltop showing patches of land which have different access rules for Palestinians and Israelis. South Hebron Hills, Photo EAPPI/ P. Moore 2015

Since the beginning of the Israeli occupation in 1967 lands have been expropriated from their Palestinian owners under a variety of pretexts in order to allow the building of settlements. There are approximately 150 settlements in occupied Palestine. Significantly these settlements have large ‘buffer zones’ around them which Palestinians are denied access to.

“The fenced or patrolled areas of settlements cover three percent of the West Bank; in total 43% of the West Bank is allocated to settlement local and regional councils.” UNOCHA 2012

Compulsory purchase orders have been enacted which have taken advantage of legal frameworks dating from the times of the Ottoman Empire.  According to Ottoman law all land belongs to the State unless someone can specifically prove ownership in writing; further clauses have allowed the confiscation of land that has not been used or cultivated for three years. These laws tend to work against Palestinians living on the “seam zones and security areas”, where they are often denied permission to cultivate the land. Additionally when a dispute arises over the ownership of a particular tract of land, any use of the land is prohibited. This results in further loss of land and livelihoods for local herding communities.

“You see that brown patch of land down there in the valley?” said Nasser, pointing into the distance. “That and the green corridors extending away from it in both directions is an area closed to everyone. The same goes for the lush grassy area heading up from one of the corridors towards the outpost on the hill. On the other hand… the stretch of land from the look-out post down towards the road is off-limits to the settlers.” Nasser 2015

While Nasser spoke I tried in ernest to take the new information on board and to discern the logic of it all, if only so that I might remember the status quo in different strips of land on different hilltops. In the end I gave up realising it was a fruitless task and concluded “there was no logic”.

Nasser Nawaja and EAs talking with soldiers in patrol car. South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Nasser and EAs talking with soldiers in patrol car. South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P Moore

Soon after a patrol car appeared behind us and some Israeli soldiers beckoned us over. By coincidence, at that precise moment Nasser spotted a few goats belonging to the nearby settlement, grazing in an area that was off-limits to all parties. He pointed them out to the soldiers and asked why the goats were not being driven away from the prohibited area like Palestinian shepherds often were. The soldiers had no answer to this and they got back into their personnel carrier and drove away.

Nasser Nawaja discussing the land use in Yatta area with an ISF- soldier. South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P Moore

Nasser Nawaja discussing the land use in Yatta area with an ISF- soldier. South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P Moore

I burst out laughing but then I felt ashamed. The situations one encounters in this bizarre patchwork quilt of hills and valleys would be comical – if it were not so tragic for so many. Each and every ‘re-zoned’ strip of dirt is somebody’s lost land.

Here we go on frequent visits to vulnerable communities living in Area C to give our support to families whose homes have been bulldozed or who are awaiting demolition. Many have received demolition orders because their homes have been deemed too close to either an Israeli settlement, a military firing range or an archaeological site. Access to land in area Area C, where the Israeli government has full control, is severely restricted. In fact, less than 1% of Area C has been planned for Palestinian development and construction is heavily restricted in 29% of Area C. UNOCHA 2013

Just a few days ago, our team rolled up our sleeves and joined the locals who were working to clear the demolition rubble away from the foundations of a house that had been leveled. The Israeli military carried out the demolition of a dozen homes in the Bedouin village of Umm al-Khair in October 2014. Umm al-Khair is bordered by the Israeli settlement of Karmel.

EAs help carry rubble from site of demolished house in Land Action in Um al Khair, South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P Moore 2015

EAs help carry rubble from site of demolished house in Land Action in Um al Khair, South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

This particular family does not intend to leave and share their hopes and plans for rebuilding. They tell us that they will not build on the site where their previous home stood since the early 1960s, but right next to it. Many victims of demolition do this in the hope that the time it takes for a new building application to go through the courts will buy them some time in their new home. The temporary emergency shelters which the families now live in have been funded by both the European Union and the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) and although this international support is greatly appreciated the residents say that they expect that these shelters will also be demolished before long. This is rural life in Area C in Palestine.

EAs and local residents clearing demolition rubble in Um al Kher South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P Moore 2015

EAs and local residents clearing demolition rubble in Um al Kher South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Al Mukhtasem Hathaleen carrying rubble from site of demolished house at Land Action in Um al Kher, South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P Moore 2015

Al Mukhtasem Hathaleen carrying rubble from site of demolished house at Land Action in Um al Kher, South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P Moore 2015

Approximately 99% of all Palestinian planning permission applications are rejected. Significantly, while old Palestinian houses are being demolished on regular basis, settlements, which are deemed illegal under international law, are being expanded at a steadily increasing pace. In some cases entire villages are under threat of demolition. The one that is probably closest to the heart of us EAs in the South Hebron Hills is the small community of Susiya, which has recently been featured in the pages of Israeli and Palestinian and international newspapers.

Susiya: a community at the heart of the struggle

Susema and Odei sheparding on Susiya fields, South Hebron Hills, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Susema and Odei sheparding on Susiya fields, South Hebron Hills, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

The Village of Susiya, South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

The Village of Susiya, South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Some 550 people live in the village of Susiya. Their main source of income comes from farming and animal husbandry. From the outside, the village might look like a ramshackle tangle of tents and shacks, but it has a soul and a school and a whole lot of children. Village community life flourishes.

The village of Susiya was here at its original location from the early decades of the 19th century. In 1986, the Israeli Civil Administration declared the village land was an archaeological site and the residents were expelled and the land was confiscated. Since then the village’s history has been one long chapter of nonviolent struggles against demolition orders. Just some weeks ago, the Civil Administration announced it had quashed the last legal obstacles to the complete destruction of the village. “Complete” in this case would not just include their makeshift homes but livestock barns, water tanks, solar panels – everything in the village.

The Village of Susiya, South Hebron Hills  Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

The Village of Susiya, South Hebron Hills Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Susya forever, South Hebron Hills, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Susya forever, South Hebron Hills, Photo EAPPI/P. Moore 2015

Things are rather different at the neighbouring Susiya settlement, built on village land from 1983 onwards. Life in the Israeli settlement carries on without any threats of the demolition.  The story of Susiya is one of many in the South Hebron Hills region, where too many people live from day to day never knowing when the next expulsion will come.

On the 10th of May the Civil Administration began ‘mapping’ Susiya – residents fear imminent demolition. Click here to learn more.

Take action box 2


Sign and spread the Avaaz Petition started by Susiya resident Nasser Nawajeh, Save My Village!

You can help their cause by sharing their story and spreading B’Tselem’s appeal through social media using #SaveSusiya.


The Settler’s Tour in Hebron


by the Hebron Team

Hebron is a contested city. The settlements are located in the middle of the city’s center and there are few other places were Palestinians and settlers are living so close to each other. Because of the proximity, tensions frequently arise between the two sides.

Hebron, therefore, is often said to represent a microcosm of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Photo EAPPI/ M. Guntern Settlers entering into the old city.  06.04.2015

Settlers entering into the old city, Hebron. Photo EAPPI/ M. Guntern 06.04.2015

The city is divided into one Israeli and one Palestinian zone. Normally the Old City is off limits for the settlers, but every Saturday afternoon a group of settlers and supporting tourists go on a “tour” around the Old City.

The group is accompanied by some 30-40 soldiers, including a troop of snipers that go ahead to secure the area. In some cases this means entering Palestinian homes. For approximately one hour the group makes its way through the Old City of Hebron protected by heavily armed soldiers. Some of the settlers participating in the tour are also armed.

Photo EAPPI/M. Guntern  Soldiers protecting the settlers during the tour.06.04.2015

Soldiers protecting the settlers during the tour, Hebron. Photo EAPPI/M. Guntern 06.04.2015

The tour guide is one of the ideological hardliners from the settlement community in Hebron. He presents the settlers’ narrative of the history of the Jewish community in the city. However, from what EAs have observed the audience rarely pays attention to what is being said. Instead they tend to hang out and chat with each other, the soldiers, or they concentrate on their phones. The Settler’s Tour has become a renowned attraction in Hebron. Also regular tourists come to Hebron to watch this spectacle of settlers, soldiers and members of international organisations.

Internationals and tourists waiting for the tour. Photo EAPPI/M. Guntern 06.04.2015

Internationals and tourists waiting for the tour. Photo EAPPI/M. Guntern 06.04.2015

The Palestinians living and working in the Old City regards the settlers tour as way of “showing who’s in power” and to “intimidate the population”. EAPPI, is always present during the tours to provide protective presence to the inhabitants of the Old City.

We, as Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs), do our best to ensure that Palestinians do not face restrictions on their freedom of movement and that they are allowed to pass the group of settlers and soldiers without problems.

Photo EAPPI/M. Guntern  EA monitoring the tour. 06.04.2015

EA monitoring the Settler’s tour Hebron. Photo EAPPI/M. Guntern 06.04.2015

However, the tour is affecting the locals’ ability and willingness to move around the Old City. On one occasion we met two women with their daughters, who said they were too afraid to walk past the tour and decided to wait until it had passed.

In addition to affecting the number of customers in the Old City, the Settler’s Tour has further consequences for local commerce and trade. A shopkeeper in the Old City says about the tour:

“Sometimes the settlers break my things and throw my products on the ground and trample on them, other times the settlers buy things, you never know with these groups”

Nevertheless, the shopkeepers in the Old City staunchly open their shops and refuse to let the “tour” control their opening hours.