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The Tent of Nations centenary: “We refuse to be enemies”

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by the Bethlehem team.  

On the 12th of May 2016, the Nassar family supported by visitors from around the Globe, congregated on a scenic hilltop farm on the outskirts of Nahlin village to celebrate their family’s connection to the land which stretches back in time to over 100 years.

People came from all over the world to participate in four days of activities that included workshops and group discussions as part of the 100 Years Celebration

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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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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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Voices rise above the wall

by EA Tone.

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

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