The right to pray does not have an age limit

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by EA Ebba, Yanoun team,

“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.”  

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 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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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

Photo Essay: Holy Week under Military Occupation

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By the Jerusalem team,

2016’s Holy Week in Jerusalem was one full of contradictions. The week before brought the exciting news that 850 Christians from Gaza had been granted permits from the Israeli authorities to come and worship. However, a last minute travel ban between Wednesday and Saturday meant that even for those with permits, getting past checkpoints into the city became extremely difficult. A glorious Palm Sunday Procession down the Mount of Olives into the Old City was followed by a week where the realities of the occupation did not abate: house demolitions, arrests, and even the “apparent extrajudicial execution” of a Palestinian in Hebron (so called by Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov) marred the commemoration of Holy Week. Continue reading

Good Friday in Bethlehem: Waiting for Resurrection

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By EAs’ Thor, Elaine and Katherine,

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:

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Qalandia Checkpoint: “another brick in the wall”

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 by EAs’ Mayara and Katarzyna, Jerusalem team.  

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.

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Q and A: What’s at stake in Cremisan?

By EA Tone, Bethlehem team, 

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. 

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