EAPPI February 2010 newsletter
EAPPI February 2010 newsletter
A turning point?
- The Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, and Bishop Munib Younan signing the Palestine Kairos Document in Bethlehem (Photo: EAPPI).
A new decade has begun, and the start of 2010 may signal a new beginning in Palestinian Christians’ struggle for their rights.
In December a group of Palestinian Christian theologians gathered in Bethlehem to issue “A moment of Truth,” a call also dubbed the “Palestinian Kairos Document”. Echoing the Kairos document issued by South African churches in the 1980s calling for an end to Apartheid, it was a prayerful call for an end to the occupation.
The authors declared that “the military occupation of our land is a sin against God and humanity.” They pointed to the brutalities of the occupation and the damage it inflicts on the Palestinian and Israeli societies. Rejecting use of the Bible to legitimize injustice, they called on churches, civil societies and governments worldwide to support a just peace in the Middle East by pressing the Israeli government to end the occupation. Click here to read more about the launch of the document.
The outgoing General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev Samuel Kobia, called on WCC member churches to launch campaigns to end the occupation and help build peace.
In response, the Palestine-Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) has started a website to support and inform Christians campaigning for peace in the holy land. The Palestine Kairos document can be read in full here.
Meanwhile in the West Bank
- A Palestinian woman searches through the rubble of her home in Khirbet Tana, destroyed that morning (Photo: Kirsten, EA in Yanoun).
Sadly, the occupation has continued to devastate Palestinian communities in the Occupied Territories. UN figures showed that in 2009, house demolitions by the Israeli authorities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem displaced 619 Palestinians, over half of them children. EAPPI’s photo diarists have been following the story – click here to see.
In January, Ecumenical Accompaniers visited the tiny Palestinian village of Khirbet Tana, where 16 homes and a school had just been demolished by the Israeli army.
Many suspect that the demolitions are intended to create space for expanding Israeli settlements, which despite a declared “freeze” on building, have continued to grow.
- Israeli settlers in Shuhada Street, Hebron, where most Palestinians cannot enter. (Photo: Alex, EA in Hebron).
Campaigners against the occupation say they are now facing a clampdown by the authorities, affecting Palestinian and Israeli activists and their international supporters alike. The lengthy detention of several non-violent protestors, with no charges brought, raised concerns that they are “being detained solely on account of legitimately exercising their right to freedom of expression.” (Amnesty International)
But grassroots campaigns are growing. On 25th February, peace supporters around the world will unite for “Open Shuhada Street,” a day of campaigns for the re-opening of Shuhada Street, a central Hebron shopping precinct closed off to Palestinian commerce for years. EAPPI has created a photo gallery of the street.
Click here to sign a petition for the street to be re-opened.
And there’s more…
- A soldier checking the papers of a Palestinian farmer hoping to access his land (Photo: EAPPI).
Hebron is a large Palestinian city constantly patrolled by Israeli soldiers and armed gangs of settlers. It is a tense environment. But it is also a city full of dreams.
It is difficult for most Muslims to visit Jerusalem to pray. But Palestinian Christians face many of the same difficulties – and they are speaking out against the occupation.
It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon in the old city of Hebron – but guns are pointing at us from a distance of four feet. Today is the day of the settlers’ tour of Hebron.