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 →
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.
Letter 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.
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 of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
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.
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
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