EAPPI news-August 2010
Promoting a just peace in Israel and Palestine
Greetings from Jerusalem. The Middle East is experiencing an intense heat wave and as the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan begins, West Bankers are preparing for a tough period.
The heat adds an additional burden to Palestinian communities coping with the multiple impacts of the occupation. July saw a sharp rise in the frequency and scale of house demolitions by Israeli forces. Several families have also been evicted from their homes to make way for Israeli settlers, especially in Jerusalem (see picture, right).
In one case, the army demolished 70 tents, making over 100 people homeless on a single day in a Bedouin village in the Jordan Valley. Soldiers later returned to demolish emergency tents donated by humanitarian agencies. Israel often demolishes Palestinian homes on the grounds that they are built “illegally,” but makes it near impossible for Palestinians to obtain permits in Area C, the 60 percent or so of the West Bank in which the Oslo Accords granted Israel full military and civil control. It is also extremely difficult for Palestinians to obtain building permits in East Jerusalem.
Since the start of the year, Israeli authorities have demolished 142 structures (49 of them residential) displacing at least 227 Palestinians, including 107 children.
The recent spike in demolitions followed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit to Washington at the start of July. As a ten-month partial building freeze in Israel’s illegal settlements draws to a close, NGOs say they expect the rate of demolitions to stay high.
American pressure on Israel to refrain from demolitions and settlement building is likely to remain slack in the run-up to November’s congressional elections. This increases the burden on global civil society to denounce demolitions and evictions of Palestinians as contrary to international law and incompatible with the Israeli professed desire for peace. We encourage you to get involved – including via our Facebook group.
A new group and a shifting tide
An increase in house demolitions will be just one of the issues faced by Group 36 of Ecumenical Accompaniers. Members of Group 36, who arrived in their placements at the end of July, come from eleven different countries and include the first EA to be sent from Australia. Click here to read more…
The United Kingdom’s National Methodist Conference voted in June to boycott all products from Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements, and to encourage Methodists across Britain to do the same. Methodists said their decision was “a response to a call from a group of Palestinian Christians, a growing number of Jewish organisations, both inside Israel and worldwide, and the World Council of Churches.”
The General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, congratulated the Conference for its “important and forward looking resolutions… around the question of a just peace for Palestine and Israel.”
The other side of the world, the National Council of Churches in Australia called for a boycott of settlement produce and added its voice to those of Christians calling for an end to occupation. It unequivocally condemned all acts of terrorism.
A new President for the Lutherans
EAPPI extends its congratulations to His Grace Bishop Munib Younan, Bishop of the Lutheran Church in the Holy Land and Jordan, who has been elected as President of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) – a body representing over 70 million Lutherans worldwide. The LWF called Bishop Younan “a passionate campaigner for peace and inter-faith dialogue in the Middle East.”
On our website…
EAPPI has a unique relationship with the communities we serve, offering both protection and an outlet for stories that would not otherwise be heard. Here are some of recent highlights from our website, www.eappi.org.
Closing down Hebron – The Israeli army welded shut the doors of shops in Hebron to pressure locals to halt demonstrations against previous closures. EAPPI was there.
Remote but Besieged – The Bedouin community of Um Al Khayr struggle to maintain their traditional way of life, even under occupation.
“When the soldiers don’t do anything to us at the checkpoint, it is not normal,” says Samar, a 12-year-old girl from An Nu’man. But then, very little in this “stranded” village on the outskirts of Jerusalem is normal.
Pray with us for justice
EAPPI works to expose the brutality of the occupation – in many languages. For regular updates “from the ground” in the Occupied Territories visit www.eappi.org, or click on these links to visit the websites of our sending organizations in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.
We wish all our Muslim supporters a blessed and peaceful Ramadan!