“We didn’t have time to pack everything; lots of our things were destroyed that day in front of my eyes…along with the house”. Maryam, a bright young bedouin woman, animatedly recalled the stormy February day in 1997 when her home was demolished and entire community uprooted by the Israeli forces . That was when she and her eight siblings were forcibly transported, along with a small container full of their possessions, to al-Jabal, where they were left homeless. She has lived there ever since, in what has now evolved into a township.
11.06.16 Jerusalem district Mother plays with child in Khan Al Ahmar Bedouin Community Photo EAPPI/Emily
We have all heard about what is going on in Susiya lately. Demolitions, demolitions and demolitions. But we have not heard from Khan al Ahmar. In Khan Al Ahmar, a small mixed primary school made out of used rubber tyres is being threatened with demolition by the Israeli Civil Administration.
Khan Al Ahmar. Thirteen year old Nasreen a student from the school that wants to be a teacher. Photo EAPPI 11.08.16
Before us about 20 tents mostly made out of black or white tarpaulin sheets are nestled into the rugged landscape. The only sounds that can be heard are the faint sound of a television in one of the furthest tents, sometimes the bleat of a sheep, our footsteps, and the wind lifting up the dust earth beneath us; it barely alleviates the stifling summer heat. A number of small water cisterns are scattered amongst the tents. It looks like a makeshift camp even though it has been here for decades. We are in the Palestinian village of Susiya, in the south of the West Bank. Here there is no proper infrastructure, no running water or electricity supply. It stands in stark contrast to the Israeli settlement nearby, which looks like your average 21st century housing estate (settlements are fully integrated into Israel’s national power grid, water and telecommunication systems).
Palestinian village of Susiya in the foreground and the Israeli settlement of Susya in the background. Photo EAPPI/ L.l. Pianezza 28.06.2015
Nureddin Amro’s home was one of 531 Palestinian houses to be demolished by Israeli forces last year. But Nur and his family aren’t just statistics. Like every other family who experience demolitions they have their own unique story, and are still living with the consequences today; more than a year later. Continue reading →
“Teargas burns in my throat and nose. My eyes sting. I lift up the scarf over my nose and I start to breathe through the blue velvet fabric. Around me, people are fleeing in all directions. Smoke from teargas-canisters settles like a fog over the crowd, of men women and children. BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! It sounds as if weapons are being fired, but the sound comes from sound bombs thrown into the crowd.”
Two soldiers on large horses ride into the crowd of people.
Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) monitor access to holy sites for Palestinians of all faiths across occupied Palestine. During Ramadan our EAs monitor the checkpoints every Friday to ensure that those with permits are able to go to Jerusalem and report on any human rights abuses that occur during crossing. Continue reading →
The scars of Hebron’s local community are easy to miss at first glance but lie only just below the surface. I first arrived in the aftermath of a wave of violence from October 2015-March 2016 . Within moments of meeting, locals in the city’s Israeli-controlled H2 area would tell me about a Palestinian killed by Israeli forces just meters away. It was clearly fresh and painful. Continue reading →
by EAs Maria and Siphiwe, South Hebron Hills team,
Today is almost certainly the last day of Ramadan – hopefully the new moon will be seen tonight and celebrations of Eid-al-Fitr will go ahead tomorrow. The holy month of daily fasts will be over.
While Ramadan is drawing to a close, there is less certainty about when life in Yatta will return to any kind of normality. As of the 5th of July, the towns of Yatta, As Samu’ and Bani Na’im are under indefinite closure. Mid-afternoon on Friday 1st July, there was a dreadful drive-by shooting of an Israeli family on Route 60, just west of Yatta, killing the father (Michael Mark) and seriously injuring his wife and two children (15 and 13 years old). The unidentified assailant/s escaped.  Following the attack, the Israeli authorities closed the roads around Yatta and the surrounding villages. These villages were blockaded because they were suspected to be the place of residence of the perpetrators.
In the North-West area of West Bank, in the Governorate of Salfit, lies Deir Istiya, a Palestinian village which has about 4000 inhabitants. The village is located in close proximity to seven Israeli settlements. This community’s livelihoods are being undermined due to access restrictions and land confiscations imposed by the Government of Israel.  
In November 2015, Israeli authorities started constructions works to broaden Road 55 located next to the village. While the broadening of the road has improved the connectivity of settlements in the area, the freedom of movement of the residents of the Deir Istiya have been severely curtailed. When the authorities broadened the highway they closed all of the agricultural roads previously used by farmers. As a result residents of Deir Istiya have been cut off from about two thirds of the village’s farming lands on the other side of the road. Crossing this busy road, with tractors and livestock, is now almost impossible. The only way that farmers can access their land is through a rain water tunnel, roughly five feet high,that runs under the main road.
10.3.16, Abu Abdullah shows EAs the new access for residents of Deir Istiya under the main road. EAPPI/A.Dunne
Three weeks ago, EAs visited a village called Wadi J’Hesh which is also know as south Susiya, in the Hebron governorate. This village is located between the Palestinian village of Susiya and the illegal Israeli settlement Susya. During the visit we learned that, thanks to the intervention of local and international humanitarian NGOs, living conditions have been improving for residents. Wadi J’Hesh now has access to clean, safe drinking water and electricity. Despite these small improvements in living standards, the Israeli authorities have not yet recognised their village and the community still lives with the constant threat of demolition. At the time of our visit forty three structures in the village had pending demolition orders. Although they await a major court case on the 1st of August that will decide the fate of these structures, they know that demolitions can happen at any time. Continue reading →
On the 13th of May 2016, Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) responded to a request for protective presence from Palestinian farmers living in Al Simeri, Shi’b al Butum in the hills south of Hebron. Mahmood Yosif Jabareen, his brothers – Hamad, Ali, Khalil and Yosif – and two nephews were planning to plough one of their fields. However, the 13th of May was no ordinary day in the fields for the Jabareen family. The 13th of May was the first time in sixteen years that the Israeli courts granted them unhindered access to their land.
Hamad told us: “this story is very good for me, because we come to the land…”
On the 12th of May 2016, the Nassar family supported by visitors from around the Globe, congregated on a scenic hilltop farm on the outskirts of Nahlin village to celebrate their family’s connection to the land which stretches back in time to over 100 years.
People came from all over the world to participate in four days of activities that included workshops and group discussions as part of the 100 Years Celebration.
When we arrive at Areef Tootanji’s house in Wad al-Joz, at 5 in the morning the bulldozers are still tearing through his house. Areef is beside himself shouting at the military who are blocking both the family and us from getting to the house. For a moment we are at a loss for words, what can you say to someone who’s house is being demolished in front of us? What can you say to someone who was woken up at 4AM in the morning by soldiers, who with no prior warning, and given five minutes to leave their house? Areef points at his slippers and tell us he didn’t even have time to put on his shoes. Later we find the family’s ID cards in the rubble of what was once their home.
18.05.16 Wadi Joz. Areef Tootanji in front of remains of his house. Photo EAPPI/ J. Svanelind
According to UNOCHA, 613 Palestinian houses have been demolished so far in 2016, and 887 people have been displaced due to house demolitions. This is already more than in total 2015 when there was 531 demolitions and 688 people were displaced. In Jerusalem alone we’ve had 72 demolitions, with an average of 3 demolitions per week. Continue reading →
The Hebron EAPPI team sat around an open fire with a group of 30 Palestinians and international human rights workers eating warm kanafe. We huddled under ancient olive trees at the top of Tel Rumeida in Hebron and celebrated the opening of the closed military zone (CMZ) in H2, an area completely controlled by Israel. This community has been living under occupation since 1967 but what does this “opening” actually mean? And how will it impact Palestinians whose freedom of movement has been denied and whose lives have been disrupted since the 1st November 2015 last year?
23.05.16, Tel Rumeda, Kanafe is a traditional Arabic cheese pastry with a shredded wheat top crust drenched in sugar syrup. Photo EAPPI
On the 10th of May 2016, the Israeli army’s Civil Administration District Coordination Office, accompanied by Israeli soldiers, issued four stop work orders on tents in Susiya in the Massafer Yatta area of Hebron.
This video shows the DCO official, accompanied by two soldiers, issuing a stop work order on a residential tent belonged to the Nawaja family. The family was not home at the time so the inspector leaves the stop work order under a rock next to the entrance of the tent. He then takes a photo of the order pinned under the rock as evidence that the notice of the order was executed lawfully. This tent is home to a family of seven, including five children. Jihad Nawaja, the head Susiya Village Council, talks with the inspector.
The Palestinians of East Jerusalem have something called a permanent residency status,  granted by Israel after the illegal annexation  of East Jerusalem in 1967. More than 300 000 Palestinians are therefore treated as immigrants, whose entry into Jerusalem is a revocable privilege and not an inherent right. Indeed, there is nothing permanent in the permanent residency status. Continue reading →
19.04.2016. Palestinian village of Al Hadidiya dry and Israeli settlement of Roi green with trees and vineyards
Al-Hadidiya is a Palestinian village located in the Northern Jordan Valley, right next to the illegal Israeli settlement of Roi. For the residents of Roi, clean safe drinking water is accessed by turning on a tap but for the residents of al-Hadidya the story is very different. This photo blog shows images of al-Hadidya’s daily struggle to access water and shows something of the human impact of the Government of Israel’s discriminatory water allocation policies in Area C of the West Bank. Continue reading →
Among the group of teachers sitting in the sun before lessons start, Khalid Zboun is clearly the head teacher. All the teachers are drinking tea, the fuel of teaching, but Khalid is drinking his from a pint mug that wouldn’t look out of place in a British pub. He needs to drink tea in such quantities because being head teacher of Al Khadr Boys’ Secondary School, near Bethlehem, is a tough job. He knows neither the time nor the place that the Israel military will come.
The 2nd of April 2015 seemed like a good day for Palestinians and for Christians in the Holy Land after a two-year court battle reached a resolution. The Israeli Supreme Court ordered the defence ministry to reconsider the route of the Barrier. This ruling halted the Israeli militaries plans to take 75% of a convent’s land in the Cremisan Valley, surround it on three sides by a 12 meter high separation barrier, divide it from the neighbouring monastery, deprive 58 Palestinian Christians of their land and prevent over 400 families from accessing their land without a permit.
Media around the world were quick to highlight this rare victory in a case that had been supported by Churches around the world and in which the Pope had taken a close interest.
But the Separation Barrier was still built. These photographs chart how it happened. Continue reading →
It was dark when we left. The 5am alarm sounded and the placement house began its usual morning splutter to life. Cameras. Notepads. Jackets. We tipped the lights and set out to monitor access to livelihood at the Deir Al Ghusun agricultural gate, just north of the Palestinian city of Tulkarm.
In 2002 , following a series of suicide attacks the Israeli military devised a plan to secure its people . A wall was built separating people from people. In 2008, the suicide attacks had ceased but construction of the Barrier, whose objective is to separate the entire West Bank from Israel, continued.
Today is 11 April 2016. I stand and watch as the bulldozers dig among olive groves and cranes slowly place concrete blocks next to each other. I stand next to Issa on the land that had once been his, now confiscated by the Israeli military to divide the Cremisan Valley from Beit Jala for security reasons. Issa’s eyes are empty and he shrugs his shoulders at the sight of what is happening in front of us. His entire olive grove is destroyed, and with it his family’s history and future. Issa is one of 58 families whose olive groves were torn up to build the Separation Barrier. In the end, the wall around Cremisan Valley will restrict between about 400 and 500 families from accessing their land. With the wall slowly being built in front of us, I ask Issa whether he still has hope:
“There’s always hope. The Berlin Wall fell, and even this wall will fall.”
Today should be a good day in Beit Fajjar. The temporary checkpoint restricting who can leave the village has gone. The rehabilitation centre for children with disabilities is full of life, its students skilfully manoeuvring their wheelchairs around. The quarries are once again accessible and the factories stand ready to process its stone. On the surface, the blockade that began 12 days ago is finally over. But dig deeper, and a different story emerges.
29.03.16 Beit Fajjar Stone awaiting delivery to the Gulf EAPPI/K. Fox
Now back in Sweden, Maria spent much of her recent service as an EA with EAPPI in in the Jordan Valley, in the east of the occupied Palestine. In this blog Maria writes about her meeting with Bisam, a 14 year old who left school to work in an agricultural settlement in the Jordan Valley. 20- 04 -2015
15.04.15 Jordan Valley, Fasayil al Fauq. Bisam who works in an Israeli settlement. Photo EAPPI/M. Stake
05.03.16, Hebron. Soldiers threatening Abu Jabari. EAPPI/A. Kaiser
It is a sunny spring morning and Mr Jabari is bringing his sheep and goats out to graze on his property on the outskirts of Hebron. He tries to do this every day but on many days, especially on Fridays and Saturdays, he is forced to leave. On this particular Saturday, Israeli soldiers from the nearby checkpoint approach and threaten to shoot his animals if he does not leave immediately. Continue reading →
Friday 25 March 2016 was a particularly holy day in the Holy Land. Purim, celebrating the events in the book of Esther, was just finishing. Christians were commemorating Good Friday in the place where Jesus was crucified. Muslims were preparing to pray at the third holiest place in Sunni Islam. EAs’ Thor, Elaine and Katherine write from Bethlehem:
The South Hebron Hills, located in the south of the West Bank in Palestine, is a beautiful area, especially in spring. The soft rolling hills are covered with fresh green grass, carpets of yellow flowers and sprinkled with limestone. At this time of year after a long winter, the shepherds bring their flocks of sheep and goats out from their farms to graze on their lands. This seemingly idyllic setting is stunning but does not paint the whole picture because it is also scattered with illegal Israeli settlements, outposts and military bases.Continue reading →
Israel has militarily occupied Palestine since 1967. The military operates a system of fixed military checkpoints, surprise flying checkpoints, as well as other physical obstructions inside the occupied West Bank. These restrictions, which include the separation barrier and prohibited roads, enable the Israeli military to control Palestinian movement throughout the West Bank breaching an entire population’s right to freedom of movement. Continue reading →
March 2nd, 2016: At 6:30 in the morning, fifteen Israeli soldiers and three bulldozers entered THE VILLAGE OF KHIRBET TANA in the east of Palestine. When they left two and a half hours later, most of the village, including the internationally funded school, was left in ruins.
EAPPI HAS MAINTAINED A ROUND-THE-CLOCK PRESENCE IN YANOUN SINCE EARLY 2003. THE PRESENCE OF ‘INTERNATIONALS’ AS WITNESSES TO DOCUMENT AND RECORD INCIDENTS HAS HELPED TO DETER SETTLER ATTACKS BUT THE SITUATION REMAINS VOLATILE.
Our regular evening walks are one of the Yanoun teams most pleasant tasks. We gladly undertake this hour and a half long trip, it is a delight to ramble down the old road between Upper and Lower Yanoun and then to turn East towards overlooking the Jordan Valley. Continue reading →
“The checkpoint takes all that man has, all his efforts, all his time, all his nerve… The checkpoint is the chaos and the order, it is within the law and outside of it, operating by rationality and idiosyncrasy through order and disorder.” Azmi Bishara, ‘Checkpoints: Fragments of a Story’ (2006)
Jerusalem is different to any other city in the world. It is a place of worship for three major monotheistic religions (Judaism, Islam and Christianity) and moreover it’s a city that has a special international status (corpus separatum). According to the International Law (UN General Assembly Resolution 181, 1947), it can’t belong to a specific nationality and it has to be accessible for all peoples. For these reasons it is important that Jerusalem is an open, inclusive and shared city.
“We won’t give up”, said Jamal a shopkeeper in the old city. He is always very proud of his history, his family, especially his father. He runs a shop that was his father`s in the old souk. The old souk is not only an `Arabic market` but it has its own history as all the city of Al Khalil. Al Khalil or Hevron is the city of Abraham or Ibrahim who is considered the friend of God. In Hebrew the city is called Hevron and in Arabic it is called Khalil in both languages the meaning is “friend”.
Everything in this city has a meaning, a history and a memory. This city is one of the most important cities of the West Bank, al-Khalil has even become one of the fourth sacred cities of Islam. Why would a Palestinian who lives in the city known as the “friend,” talk about giving up?
14.12.15. Hebron, Palestinian men reach to shake hands over razor wire in Israeli controlled H2 EAPPI/S. Villpponen
Every year Ecumenical Accompaniers provide protective presence to Palestinian farmers during the olive harvest in occupied Palestine. Our protective presence helps farmers access lands near settlements or in areas cut off by the wall and also helps deter acts of Israeli settler violence against Palestinians and their olive trees. THIS BLOG SHARES SCENES FROM the 2015 OLIVE HARVEST and A REFLECTION from THE BETHLEHEM TEAM.
24.10.15, Bethlehem, Husan, Protective Presence while olive picking, Photo EAPPI/B.
“I have nowhere else to go. says Ali Z, 39 year old father and resident of Ein Ar Rashash “If my home is demolished the sky will be my blanket and the earth my bed. I must stay”
Ein ar Rashash is a Bedouin village in Nablus in the northern West Bank. This community faces imminent demolition after a decision made by the Israeli Military court on Thursday (28th January), which gave the community until 6am on the first of February to demolish their homes and evacuate the area. The first of February just passed and the residents of the village did not carry out self-demolitions nor did the evacuate the area. They do however live with the knowledge that their homes and livelihoods could be destroyed at any moment.
29.1.16, Imminent Bedouin demolition threat at Ein Ar Rashash Bedouin Community, Photo EAPPI/A. Dunne
In Latin America, we have a special word to describe the earth, land and sea. The bounty it produces and all of our connection to it. The word is: “Pachamama”. Separate from the English term Mother Nature, the word is derived from the ancient languages of Aymara and Quechua that are native to Latin America. With “Pacha” meaning cosmos, universe, time, space and earth and “mama’ meaning mother – Pachamama represents the full embodiment of the planet and how all of us, and our survival, are inextricably linked to it.
by EAs Veronika and Gordon, South Hebron Hills team,
13.01.16 South Hebron Hills, Khirbet Ar Rahwa destroyed Samamri home Photo EAPPI
It is Wednesday, 13 January 2016, 12 o’clock, lunchtime in Khirbet Ar Rahwa, about 15 km southeast Yatta (South of Hebron), only 1 km distant from Checkpoint Meitar in the south of the Green Line. The living tent and sheep shelter of the family of Raje Barhan Samamri have just been destroyed, following a “Demolition Order” from the Israeli DCO (District Coordination Office) which administers Area C on the Palestinian West Bank on behalf of the Israeli army.
”This is what I call the unholy Trinity”, says Osama Nikolai as he points towards the horizon. Standing on the roof of Wi’am Palestinian Conflict Resolution and Transformation Center in Bethlehem we can clearly see what he is referring to. ”Firstly, there’s the wall”, he notes pointing at the separation barrier just a few meters away. ”Secondly, the settlement up right there up the hill”, he continues, ”and thirdly, the refugee camp down here” pointing to nearby Aida refugee camp. All three unholy components located within a short walk from where we stand. According to Osama, this is what the conflict boils down to; the separation barrier, refugee camps, and settlements.
24.12.15, Bethlehem, EA at the separation barrier, Photo EAPP/A. Dunne
Happy New Year to all! We want to say thank you to all our followers for reading our blogs and to all our Ecumenical Accompaniers for their eyewitness stories. We are encouraged by your interest and pray that 2016 will be a year of renewed hope for a just peace.
2015 was a challenging year in which occupation related human rights violations continued throughout the West Bank.August registered the highest number of structures demolished by the Israeli authorities in a single month in five years (since July 2010), settlement expansion was ongoing in Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem and construction of the separation barrier resumed in Bethlehem. In addition, the escalation of violence that began in mid October led to a tragic loss of life in both Israel and Palestine. Here we shed light on some of the injustices that occurred inour 10 most viewed posts from 2015.
06.09.15 Bir Ouna land owner in front of Israeli soldiers during Sunday demonstration. Photo EAPPI/T. Finstad
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 Ouna. The land is being cleared to facilitate the routing of the separation wall through the Cremisan Valley. 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.
Moving to a new place may sound exotic… unless one is forced to move. We have had the opportunity to visit several families who have experienced or are facing such a threat. Displacement is the name given to such an action and it violates several recognized human rights, such as the rights to adequate housing, food, water, health, education, work, security of the person, freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and freedom of movement. 
For Bedouin families in Palestine displacement is a reality. In Al Eizariya, in East Jerusalem, we met Maryam, her sister and her four nieces. When Maryam was twelve they were forcibly moved to this permanent residence. Some of the women in the community attend university but the men find it difficult as it is not a part of their tradition. Having left behind the tending of animals and land, some men now work as cleaners in the nearby Israeli settlements. It is, however, a difficult life. Maryam offered tea while we planned future visits. As we left, the girls were eager to take photos with our cameras. They looked like budding journalists as they told us where to stand and they giggled loudly when they reviewed the photos they had taken on the phones and digital cameras.
21.12.15. East Jerusalem Al Ezariyah, EAs from groups 58 and 59 with Bedouin children. Photo EAPPI/M. Carvalho
On the 17th of August this year the Israeli authorities began clearing ancient olive groves from privately owned Palestinian land, in preparation for the construction of the separation barrier in through the Cremisan valley in Bethlehem. The confiscation of private land and the barrier route continues without the consent of the, predominantly Christian, residents of Beit Jala. Bethlehem EA Tone who is now back in Norway, interviewed Dalia Qumsieh the head of the advocacy department at the Society of St. Yves, to understand what is at stake in the Cremisan valley.
This blog shares the recent history of a small Bedouin Hamlet, Al Hadidya, in the northern Jordan Valley. The majority of the Jordan Valley is in Area C, and the Israeli government has both civil and security authority over the 60,000 Palestinians living there. Al Hadidya is located near the illegal Israeli settlement of Ro’i and is built on land leased from the residents of Tamoun and Tubas. However,while Ro’i thrives, Al Hadidya’s residents struggles to meet even their most basic needs. The story of this village, like so many other Area C communities, is one of demolitions and displacement.
The as-Sawiyah al-Lubban School, in Nablus is just one of many schools in Palestine. It is one school of many to which students with school bags on their backs walk, run and bike every day. Some students do some last minute studying with their eyes focused on the pages of their books while walking the last hundred meters along Road 60, the main artery of the central West Bank, which runs outside the gates of the school.
Amid escalating violence Palestinian school children continue to bear the brunt of harsh Israeli policies and prolonged military occupation. Since Oct 30th Israeli authorities have declared large parts of Shuhada Street and Tel Rumeida (H2) in Hebron’s city center a closed military zone. In this same area where several Palestinians were shot and killed during this fall; harassment and violence from settlers is commonplace.
4.11.15 Hebron Check Point 56 Children and teachers waiting too pass morning school run. Photo EAPPI/I. Stolpestad
Imagine there are two 12-year old boys standing by the side of the road. Both pick up a similar size rock, and hurl it towards a passing tourist bus. Both have done wrong, there’s no doubt about that, but the consequences these two youngsters, from neighboring areas, may face will differ hugely, depending on their ethnicity and nationality.
16.11.15 Bethlehem, Tuqu, Military presence next to Tuqu school, Photo EAPPI/Suvi. R
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.
2015 East Jerusalem, Al-Khalidiyya St EA visits Sub Laban family home in Muslim Quarter. Photo EAPPI/K.Cargin
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