My watch tells me it is just after 2am as I lie awake listening to the unmistakable sound of a digger moving rock after rock, being the only noise breaking the silence in the early hours of this September morning. Every once in a while, the sound of the digger is overpowered by the sound of barking dogs, brought down from the hilltop by the wind. With the darkness as shelter, the invisible work on the hilltop continues. It is impossible, after sunset, to know for sure what is happening amidst the houses and barns little more than a stone’s throw away from my bedroom. What will be changed when the first sunbeams strike the olive trees?
12.10.2016 The first beams from the sun hit the olive trees in Yanoun. EAs show their presence by morning and evening walks around the village. EAPPI/R.W
“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.
Nureddin Amro’s home was one of 531 Palestinian houses to be demolished by Israeli forces last year. But Nur and his family aren’t just statistics. Like every other family who experience demolitions they have their own unique story, and are still living with the consequences today; more than a year later. Continue reading →
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.  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.
Three weeks ago, EAs visited a village called Wadi J’Hesh which is also know as south Susiya, in the Hebron governorate. This village is located between the Palestinian village of Susiya and the illegal Israeli settlement Susya. During the visit we learned that, thanks to the intervention of local and international humanitarian NGOs, living conditions have been improving for residents. Wadi J’Hesh now has access to clean, safe drinking water and electricity. Despite these small improvements in living standards, the Israeli authorities have not yet recognised their village and the community still lives with the constant threat of demolition. At the time of our visit forty three structures in the village had pending demolition orders. Although they await a major court case on the 1st of August that will decide the fate of these structures, they know that demolitions can happen at any time. Continue reading →
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…”
When we arrive at Areef Tootanji’s house in Wad al-Joz, at 5 in the morning the bulldozers are still tearing through his house. Areef is beside himself shouting at the military who are blocking both the family and us from getting to the house. For a moment we are at a loss for words, what can you say to someone who’s house is being demolished in front of us? What can you say to someone who was woken up at 4AM in the morning by soldiers, who with no prior warning, and given five minutes to leave their house? Areef points at his slippers and tell us he didn’t even have time to put on his shoes. Later we find the family’s ID cards in the rubble of what was once their home.
18.05.16 Wadi Joz. Areef Tootanji in front of remains of his house. Photo EAPPI/ J. Svanelind
According to UNOCHA, 613 Palestinian houses have been demolished so far in 2016, and 887 people have been displaced due to house demolitions. This is already more than in total 2015 when there was 531 demolitions and 688 people were displaced. In Jerusalem alone we’ve had 72 demolitions, with an average of 3 demolitions per week. Continue reading →