Dismantling Barriers

by returned EA John.

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

The reading from Ephesians 2:11-22 is concerned with building a new community where Jews and Gentiles are united in peace. There are no longer insiders and outsiders, rather God’s grace extends to all. Christ is the cornerstone of a new temple (or community) marked by unity and reconciliation.

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Northern West Bank. 2016 Photo EAPPI

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A day in Yatta: The effect of the roadblocks around the town.

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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. [1] [2] 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.

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The road that blocks other roads

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by the Tulkarm Qalqiliya team. 

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. [1] [2] [3]

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_

10.3.16, Abu Abdullah shows EAs the new access for residents of Deir Istiya under the main road. EAPPI/A.Dunne

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Video blog: Farmers access farmland for the first time in 16 years!

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By EA Maria, South Hebron Hills team. 

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…” 

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The opening of Hebron’s Closed Military Zone: Fact or Fiction?

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By EAs Emily, Daniel and Per, Hebron Team,

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, EAPPI/ D. Romero

23.05.16, Tel Rumeda, Kanafe is a traditional Arabic cheese pastry with a shredded wheat top crust drenched in sugar syrup. Photo EAPPI

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Visualising: The daily struggle to access water

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By the Jordan Valley Team, 

19.04.2016. Al Hadidiya dry and settlement of Roi green

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

A Timeline: How the Separation Barrier came to the Cremisan Valley

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by EA Katherine, Bethlehem team,

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