Category Archives: January
Displacement: a daily reality in East Jerusalem
Authorities leave the residents and herds with no shelter in harsh weather conditions
This morning, around 6am, civil Administration and army forces arrived at the a-Sa’idi community, near a-Za’ayem. The forces demolished the homes of four families numbering 32 people, of them 21 minors. The a-Sa’idi community numbers a total of 6 families, around 40 residents. Read more.
The last days as EA in the West Bank
The new EA team is now in Yatta. We had a handover ceremony on Wednesday. The outgoing teams said this: We pass onto you the calling to walk in the Light with the people of (name of placement e.g. South Hebron Hills). May you walk with kindness, hope, patience and love so that you are blessed and are a blessing to all. Nkosi, an EA from South Africa, and Leif sang and after some other singing and readings, the Bishop from the Redeemer Lutheran Church spoke about Christians in the Holy Land.
After the lunch, I went to Ramallah as I had not visited the city previously.
On Thursday, we had debriefing. However I went to Al Tuwani and hiked for awhile in the hills and once again caught sight of the desert and some of the villages from a hilltop. It was my own way of letting go of the work here, a pilgrimage of sorts.
Today I joined the Women in Black to protest the occupation
What will I take back from this experience? I have become close to my teammates as we shared the personal impact of what we saw – the events that brought anger and grief. And our enjoyment walking together, visiting villages and, of course, sharing in the hospitality of the locals.
There is much work ahead. Advocating for an end to occupation, for a just resolution based on international law, is now our task as EAs. Over the next week, I put together a presentation about what I witnessed. I knew about the occupation coming here but not the full depth of it and its effects on the occupied and the occupiers.
I stayed at the Auberg Inn in Jericho. When I left Yatta, it was cold and raining and we had no electricity. Jericho is below sea level and has warmer temperatures. The Auberg Inn is near the foot of the Mount of Temptation and about a 40-minute walk from the town.
I did not go up the Mount but Mahmoud, the taxi driver, took me to the Jordan River at the site where Jesus is said to have been baptised. There were Israeli soldiers on the one side and a Jordanian soldier on the other. I had my picture taken with the soldiers. They then asked what EAPPI is since I was wearing my vest. I informed them of the type of work we do in the West Bank. I also took pictures of some people who went into the river.
Then I went to the Dead Sea briefly and also saw the Sycamore tree that Zaccheus supposedly sat in.
There are many more historic sites in the area e.g. Masada but I did not go. Instead I headed to Bethlehem. Leif called to say that the electricity was still out in Yatta and he, Christian and Craig would meet me at the Bethlehem Inn. Our other teammate, Laura was in Jerusalem where she had been for her days off.
Please see related article.
The First Days of 2015
On the morning of the first, we finally were able to go to the burnt house. It is in Area B and near a road that Israeli settlers use. Area B is under Palestinian administrative control but with Israeli security. We discovered a house not yet finished being built. It is very big and the settlers may have thought that it would be a mosque. They wrote something in Hebrew and broke a window to throw in the molotov cocktail. There was not too much damage as the home is made of stone and it was contained.
On Saturday, we went to a land action to show presence on the land. There was some good news for the villagers since they were able to access land that for 10 years they were not able to plow. It was conditional though that the farmer notify authorities so they can be present when he goes on the land. On Saturday, villagers, Israelis from Ta’ayush and a few other internationals were there to again show solidarity. We had been here before. (See blog – 2nd half) This time, we talked for more than an hour with an Israeli. He spoke of the educational system in Israel. He said children are not taught about the Nakba, nor are Palestinians mentioned in textbooks. They learn that they were “a people without a land going to a land without people”. So Palestinians are called Arabs and they came here from Syria or Lebanon. No mention of those who were here and also have deep roots in the land. Also there is no border shown so this is all Israel. ‘Arabs’ then are seen as not belonging. The man said he read a lot and now comes to show that he is against the occupation and the policies of his government. I heard this from others also in my months here. We and the Ta’ayush people also stayed when a shepherd came to the area since most of the military left when the villagers returned to the village.
After this we went walking to show present at Masafar Yatta which is the area close to the firing zone. Our driver dropped us off on a road used also by settlers to get to the settlement of Ma’on. We take that road to a dirt road that we walk along. A little ways along, the views are spectacular as it is high up and we can see the desert and some of the villages. We saw two boys with sheep also. As we neared the main road on our return, an Israeli on horseback came galloping past on the dirt road going to the Palestinian villages. I tried to get him to stop but he ignored me. He was masked and had a gun. I thought right away of the 2 boys. A minute or two later, a truck with 2 Palestinian men came by. They stopped and I told them to be careful since an Israeli is up ahead. Then as we got to the paved road, the military came by and I told them about the guy on horseback and they then went up the dirt road. Hope they caught up to him before he did anything. I like to think he was just having a ride but then, why masked?
On Sunday, Laura and I went to the Meitar checkpoint. It was raining and it was not busy so we returned home early. Later in the day, we went to Khirbet al Karaba. There is a family here whose home was demolished in early November and they finally received a tent a few weeks ago. They are really now would like a solar panel to provide them with electricity. So I emailed Hamed who will see to the possibility. The lady tried to teach me how to make bread in the tabon but baking is not my forte and they had a good laugh. She spoke in Arabic which Laura and I could not make out and she would laugh and we would laugh along. Had the best time with these people who were so generous with what little they have. The mother wanted our driver to find a wife for her eldest son since the driver goes to many villages and what qualities she should have. Of course the son was sitting there a bit embarrassed but I think he was wanting also to find a girl to marry.
The next day we met with the mayor of Bani Na’im north east of us. It is not in our area but he would like us to provide protective presence especially when they fix up a road which is partly in Area C. It is used by many people from the town as well as farmers but it goes past a settlement. Settlers from Pene Hever had destroyed about 7 kms of the road. It was good to explain our program to the men in attendance and the mayor spoke good English. We will add this information in to the EAPPI office to see if the area can be added to the work we already do or if the Hebron team can cover it since it is closer to Hebron.
Today Laura, Christian and I, met up with two ladies from the German Embassy. Laura had arranged this and they toured Um la Kher, had lunch at Susiya and then to At Tuwani. They said they did not know the extent of what was going on here and want us to send our reports to them. It was a good visit and I was impressed that they came to the area.
The weather is turning nasty and a lot of rain is expected. Usually then our electricity goes out and Leif and Christian went out to get groceries in case we are stuck inside. Laura hitched a ride to Jerusalem with the Embassy people. Greg who hails from Australia, is here visiting for several days. I may leave in the morning and head up to Jericho for 2 days where I hope to talk to the EAs there to see what the issues are and also work on my presentation. Also would like to interview a Christian family living in that area or the minister of a church. Maybe climb the Mount of Temptation and go to the Dead Sea.