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

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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Visualizing Check Point 300: A Photo Essay

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by EA P. Morgan, Bethlehem team. 

“The checkpoint takes all that man has, all his efforts, all his time, all his nerve… The checkpoint is the chaos and the order, it is within the law and outside of it, operating by rationality and idiosyncrasy through order and disorder.” Azmi Bishara, ‘Checkpoints: Fragments of a Story’ (2006)

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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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Our top 10 posts from 2015

Happy New Year to all! We want to say thank you to all our followers for reading our blogs and to all our Ecumenical Accompaniers for their eyewitness stories. We are encouraged by your interest and pray that 2016 will be a year of renewed hope for a just peace.

2015 was a challenging year in which occupation related human rights violations continued throughout the West Bank. August registered the highest number of structures demolished by the Israeli authorities in a single month in five years (since July 2010), settlement expansion was ongoing in Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem and construction of the separation barrier resumed in Bethlehem. In addition, the escalation of violence that began in mid October led to a tragic loss of life in both Israel and Palestine. Here we shed light on some of the injustices that occurred in our 10 most viewed posts from 2015.

1. Uprooted lives: Christians protest the construction of the wall in the Cremisan

06.09.15 Bir Ouna land owner in front of Israeli soldiers during Sunday demonstration Photo EAPPI/T. Finstad

06.09.15 Bir Ouna land owner in front of Israeli soldiers during Sunday demonstration. Photo EAPPI/T. Finstad

On August 17, Israeli soldiers and security personnel supervised the the bulldozing of land and the uprooting of over 100 ancient olive trees in the Bir Ouna. The land is being cleared to facilitate the routing of the separation wall through the Cremisan Valley. Local Christians have been gathering daily at the site of the bulldozing to protest the illegal confiscation of their land and to pray for the protection of 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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World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel: #WallWillFall

The Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches invites member churches, faith-based communities, and civil society organizations around the world to join together in 2015 for a week of advocacy and action in support of an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine and a just peace for all in Palestine and Israel. Congregations and individuals around the globe who share the hope of justice shall unite during the week to take peaceful actions, together, to create a common international public witness.

The theme of the week in 2015, to be observed during 20-26 September, is:

“God has broken down the dividing walls”(Ephesians 2:14)

06-12-14, I. Tanner. Childrens paitings on playground walls. Zbeidat, Jericho

06-12-14, Jericho,Zbeidat, I. Tanner. Childrens paitings of the separation wall, on playground walls. Photo EAPPI / I.Tanner

How to get involved

As participants in the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel, from 20 to 26 September 2015, churches around the world shall send a clear signal to policy-makers, community groups, and their own parishes about the urgent need for a peace settlement that ends the illegal occupation and secures the legitimate rights and future of both peoples.

5_6_2015 CP300 Bethlehem Wall Prayer with icon and Clemence hoouse Photo H Jonsson EAPPI

05.06.15 Bethlehem, Checkpoint 300. EAs joins locals and internationals to pray for an peace at the weekly Wall Prayer. Photo EAPPI/ H. Jonsson

Pray, Educate, Advocate

Already, planning has begun for the World Week for Peace 2015, during which participants will organize and join in events and activities around the following three principles:

1. Praying with churches living under occupation, using a special prayer from Jerusalem and other worship resources prepared for the week.
2. Educating about actions that make for peace, and about facts on the ground that do not create peace, especially issues related to prisoners.
3. Advocating with political leaders using ecumenical policies that promote peace with justice.

06.07.00 Qalandia checkpoint, Palestinian woman held in queue at checkpoint on her way to Jerusalem. Photo EAPPI / J. Griffin

06.07.00 Qalandia checkpoint, Palestinian woman held in queue at checkpoint on her way to Jerusalem. Photo EAPPI / J. Griffin

Why?

This annual observance of a week of prayer, education, and advocacy calls participants to work for an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine, so that Palestinians and Israelis can finally live in peace. It has been 66 years since the creation of the State of Israel. This has not led to the creation of an independent Palestinian state but has only deepened the tragedy of the Palestinian people. It is now 47 years since the occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza overwhelmed the peaceful vision of one land, two peoples.

Bethlehem Gilo 11, 31.10.07

31.10.07, Bethlehem, Gilo 300 terminal, Palestinains on their way to work queue at checkpoint 300 Photo EAPPI

Yet the dream of one nation cannot be fulfilled at the expense of another.

23.11.13. Tulkaram, Children living on the hill of the Ras at Tira village with settlement Alfe Menashe in the background. Photo EAPPI /Elina

23.11.13. Tulkaram, Children living on the hill of the Ras at Tira village with settlement Alfe Menashe in the background. Photo EAPPI /Elina

The action week’s message is that now:

  • It’s time for Palestinians and Israelis to share a just peace.
  • It’s time for freedom from occupation.
  • It’s time for equal rights.
  • It’s time for the healing of wounded souls.

Wonderful worship and educational resources are available in different languages – please make them part of your church events. In social media, please use the hashtag #WallWillFall to talk about this year’s World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel.

*Source: World Council of Churches website

Resources

World Council of Churches: World Week for Peace 2015: resources

Pax Christi: resources

EAPPI Australia: New resources for World Week For Peace and two Action Alerts

The Separation Barrier: background, statistics and case-studies  produced B’tselem

The Jerusalem Prayer

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