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
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 →
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.
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
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.