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 in our 10 most viewed posts from 2015.
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.
Self-demolition of personal property is a increasing trend in East Jerusalem. This phenomena receives little international attention as it is difficult to track, both in terms of the number of those affected and its psychological impact. According to ICAHD the two of the main reasons why families choose to self-demolish are: to avoid unnecessary attention and to dodge high demolition fines.
The situation on the ground in occupied East Jerusalem has deteriorated in the last month (October); violence has escalated and the atmosphere here is tense. In this same period the Israeli military installed new checkpoints and road blocks on the access points to Palestinian communities living in East Jerusalem. The Israeli Authorities say that it is for security reasons but the question arises: for whose security and what are the consequence of these access restrictions?
No child deserves to worry about war. For a Palestinian child, life under occupation in the Israeli controlled part of Hebron means crossing checkpoints daily to access school and frequently having your schoolbags searched by armed soldiers. Brief moments of levity, such as the scene above of children playing football with the soldiers, punctuate the otherwise tense atmosphere.
On May 5 2015 Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled to allow the army to demolish the entire Palestinian village of Susiya and expel its residents from Area C to Area A of the Occupied Territories. The court ruling put Susiya’s 340 residents, including 120 children, at imminent risk of forced displacement. The threat of displacement did not crush the villagers’ spirit: rather this community worked tirelessly with the help of Israeli, Palestinian and International NGOs, including EAPPI, to save their homes and appose the Government of Israel’s discriminatory planning and construction policies in Area C. This poem was written by EA Leif who was providing protective presence in Susiya during the summer months.
Hebron’s appearance is slowly changing… while carrying out our usual EAPPI tasks, we can observe both – the Israeli settler’s and the Palestinian resident’s efforts to transform the city.
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.
On 31st of July, an 18-month-old Ali Saad Dawabsheh was burned to death in a fatal arson attack on his family home in the village of Duma. Israelis from a nearby settlement are believed to be behind the so called ‘price tag attack‘. Ali’s parents later died in hospital from the third degree burns. After the arson attack there was a huge outpouring of sympathy and outrage from both Palestinians and Israelis. EAs’ covering the northern West Bank region, attended the funerals of the Dawabsheh family members and were among the thousands who offered their condolences.
The exams period during primary and secondary school is a very stressful period to all children and teenagers, no matter if they live in Germany, South Africa or in Uruguay. For Palestinian students, however, this is an extra stressful time of the year. EAPPI does school runs as part of its Access to Education initiative, which aims to guarantee children’s access to education despite the hardships of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. On the 3rd of December, EAs’ witnessed first-hand the difficulties of going to school for Palestinian children.