Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sabeel Wave of Prayer

Each week at 12:00 in Jerusalem Sabeel holds a Communion service that is open to the community. It is a time to join together to celebrate the eucharist, to discuss how the scriptures apply to our lives today, and to pray for the specific needs of this region. Our hope is that in our respective time zones, individuals and groups around the world will pray together at 12:00 on Thursdays, in solidarity with Sabeel in Jerusalem and with “Friends of Sabeel” worldwide. Starting in Australia, passing through Palestine, and continuing on around the world we pray for Peace with Justice and focus on specific issues each week.

Wave of Prayer for Thursday, July 31, 2008

We pray for comfort for the Palestinian families in Jerusalem facing home demolitions and evictions this summer. The increased activity of settlement growth and house demolitions have left many in the fragile Jerusalem community worn down by the constant stress. We celebrate the house that was rebuilt this week by the Israeli Coalition Against House Demolition's summer "Re-building Camp" and thank God for people willing to take a stand against injustice.

We thank God for the ruling of the Israeli Supreme Court which declared the injustice of the construction of the Wall on the land of the village of Jayyous. The decision that route of the Wall must be changed is a tribute to the nonviolent resistance to the Wall of the people of Jayyous and we pray that the decision will be implemented immediately

We pray for the growth and learning of the youth participating in the Sabeel Young Adult Conference during this week. We are grateful for this opportunity for Palestinian and interational young people to worship, pray and study together about what makes for a just peace.

We pray that general meeting of Friends of Sabeel North America taking place this weekend bears fruit for all who attend and inspires them in their important work.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Israeli Settlers Pursue Palestinian School Children

Palestinian Children encounter many obstacles to their education: harrassment and violence from settlers, impediments, such as roadblocks and checkpoints and in some cases, damage or closure of their schools. Accompanying children to school has been one of Christian Peacemaker Teams' violence reduction programs for many years in the West Bank.

A few incidents four years ago convinced the Israeli Knesset that children near At-Tuwani needed an escort from Israeli soldiers to protect them from settler violence:

In 2004, two CPT members, Kim Lamberty and Chris Brown in At-Tuwani were severely injured when settlers attacked them as they were walking children to school.[17] A few days later, the team, along with Operation Dove and Amnesty International members were again attacked. In response to these attacks, the Israeli Knesset Committee for Children's Rights initiated an order to have soldiers escort the Palestinian children to school in At-Tuwani

The children continue to risk injury from settlers when their military escort is late or fails to appear.

Israeli Settlers Pursue Palestinian Children on Their Way to
Summer Camp; Israeli Military Fails to Escort Children

24 July 2008

AT-TUWANI – On Wednesday 23 July, three Israeli settlers, one masked and wielding a stick, pursued 14 Palestinian children who were on their way to a summer camp in At-Tuwani. The children from the villages of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed waited 30 minutes for the Israeli military escort that should have accompanied them on the most direct road between the villages of Tuba and At-Tuwani. When the military failed to arrive, the children began walking along a long path through the hills to At-Tuwani. When the children neared the illegal Israeli settlement outpost of Havot Ma'on, three settlers came out from the outpost and began walking in the direction of the children. The settlers had two dogs with them.

International observers yelled to the children to alert them to the approaching settlers, who were pursuing them from behind. The children ran down and across a valley to a location further from the settlers. They continued to At-Tuwani. The settlers remained on a hill top near Havot Ma’on, watching the children as they walked toward the schoool.

The previous day, Tuesday 22 July, the military escort never arrived to escort the children to summer camp. Seven children took a long path to the school. They told international observers that at least eight other children did not attend summer camp because they were too afraid to come to school without an escort. The mayor of At-Tuwani spoke with Israeli military to coordinate the escort for the children. However, several military spokespersons and soldiers on the ground denied being ordered to escort the children.

In 2004 the Israeli Knesset recommended that the Israeli military carry out a daily escort of the children of Tuba and Maghaer Al-Abeed to their school in At-Tuwani in response to settler violence against them. In 2006 Israeli Minister of Defense stated that the illegal outpost of Havot Ma’on should be dismantled because of the settlers’ violence towards school children. During the 2007-2008 school year, settlers used violence against these children on at least 14 occasions.

Reprinted with Permission from Christian Peacemaker Teams

Cross-Posted at Booman Tribune and Street Prophets

Sabeel Wave of Prayer

Each Thursday at noon in Jerusalem, Sabeel holds a Communion service that is open to the community. It is a time to join together to celebrate the Eucharist, to discuss how the scriptures apply to our lives today, and to pray for the specific needs of this region. Following the 2006 Sabeel International Conference, the Friends of Sabeel coordinators met and discussed the idea of "Waves of Prayer." The premise is that in their respective time zones, individuals and groups around the world will pray together at 12:00 on Thursdays, in solidarity with Sabeel in Jerusalem and with "Friends of Sabeel" worldwide. Starting in Australia, passing through Palestine, and on around the world we will pray for Peace with Justice and focus on specific issues each week.

Wave of Prayer for Thursday, July 24, 2008

We pray for the visits of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and U.S. presidential candidate Barak Obama to Palestine and Israel this week. We hope that these visits will open the eyes of these leaders to the imbalance of power that continues to breed violence in this region, that in the end they will commit themselves to the things that make for peace-justice, truth, and liberation.

We pray for Palestinian students around the West Bank and Gaza who have scholarships to study abroad but are having trouble leaving the country due to visa problems. We pray that the Israeli government will allow these students to continue their studies and achieve their human potential.

We pray for Sabeel's Third Young Adult Conference, which begins Thursday, July 24 and focuses on the 60 years since the Nakba of 1948. We pray for all the international and local young adults who will participate, that they will grow in community and that they will gain a greater understanding of the history, present reality, and prospects for change in Palestine and Israel.

We celebrate the opening of the Sabeel photo exhibit at the YWCA Jerusalem this week. We thank God for the commitment of Canadian Friends of Sabeel in updating the photo exhibit, and hope that this exhibit will be a powerful witness to the memory of the Nakba and the story of the Palestinians.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Drought in South Hebron Hills worsened by Israeli occupation

The West Bank is facing a severe drought this summer, made even worse by the long-standing control and abuse of water-resources by the Israeli Government. According to B'tselem:

The 2008 drought, the most serious drought in the area in the past decade, aggravates the built-in, constant shortage of water in the West Bank. Rainfall this year in the northern West Bank was 64 percent of average, while in the southern sections of the West Bank, it was 55 percent. As a result, the water stored from rainfall has already been used. The Palestinian Water Authority estimates this year’s water shortage in the West Bank at 42 to 69 million cubic meters. The total water consumption in the West Bank is 79 mcm. The PWA has already requested Mekorot – the Israel Water Company – for an emergency supply of eight mcm.
Israel holds complete control of the water sources shared by Israel and the Palestinians, primarily the Mountain Aquifer, and prohibits by army order any Palestinian drilling of wells without a permit. At the same time, Israel draws from the West Bank, primarily from the Jordan Valley, some 44 mcm, five million more than it supplies to the Palestinian Authority. Israel allocates to Palestinians only 20 percent of the water from the Mountain Aquifer, and prevents the PWA to develop additional water sources to enable greater water supply for Palestinians in the West Bank.

Israel’s obligations under international law

As the occupying power, Israel is required under international humanitarian law to ensure public order and safety in the occupied territory, without discrimination. In addition, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which Israel ratified, ensures access to clean drinking water without discrimination. International human rights law also ensures the Palestinians’ right to utilize and enjoy freely their natural resources.

A recent release from CPT shows the various ways that the Israeli occupation exacerbates the drought conditions in the everyday lives of rural Palestinians:

23 July, 2008

At-Tuwani and neighboring villages are in the worst drought-affected area of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT): only 13% of the expected rainfall came in the Hebron area in the winter of 2007-08. Lower than required levels collected in local wells and cisterns. At-Tuwani villagers told Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) that there is only around one week's supply of water left in the village.

Drought-related problems are made worse by the Israeli military roadblocks (see Releases: 27 June & 5 July 2008), that restrict access to the nearest Palestinian Water Authority (PWA) filling point. However, the capacity of the PWA is insufficient to meet local needs. The Oslo II Peace Agreement of 1995 called for "the equitable utilization of joint water resources": this has never happened. Israeli human rights group, B'Tselem reports that the per capita consumption of water of Palestinians in the West Bank is 66 liters, whereas the average daily water consumption in Israeli cities is 235 liters.

A few families in At-Tuwani have purchased water, but the Israeli military roadblocks mean that water tankers have to take longer routes, thus raising the price. NGOs who recently brought water to the area told CPT that it cost 35-40 NIS per m3 (1m3 = 1000 liters), three to six times higher than Israeli households pay. The World Health Organization estimates that the average, minimum daily water need per person is 60 liters. In addition, the villagers must provide water for their flocks, and a sheep requires a minimum of 5-7 liters of water per day.

Access to grazing land near At-Tuwani is limited by Israeli settlers from illegal settlements and outposts. The settlers steal and build on grazing land and attack and harass Palestinian herders. The low winter rainfall adversely affected the growth of the natural vegetation, and the planted crops, like barley and wheat, produced a very low harvest. The Palestinians, therefore, are forced to buy additional fodder for their animals: in the past 12 months fodder prices have tripled, while the market price for a sheep has nearly halved.

Palestinian access to grazing land is relentlessly restricted by the Israeli occupation. Since the occupation began in 1967, 21 percent of West Bank grazing land has been declared Israeli military zones and another 8 percent deemed nature reserves.

Palestinians, with support from a Spanish NGO, are building a new cistern in At-Tuwani to supply water to villages in the area in future years. The Israeli military issued a 'stop work order' (the first step in the demolition process) on 26 June, 2008. Representatives from the village met with the Israeli military authorities last week requesting that this order be rescinded. They have told CPT that they will appeal to the Israeli High Court if necessary.

CPT continues to accompany Palestinian herders as they graze on their traditional lands and resist Israeli army and settler harassment. Local and international NGOs are working to meet the humanitarian needs in the area by supplying water and fodder.

The UN's projections for the long-term effects of this year's drought on herding among Palestinians are severe:

The drought has had the most serious impact on the herd-dependent communities in the southern and south-eastern Hebron Governorate, the arid slopes east of Bethlehem and Jerusalem, and the Jordan Valley (no less than 2500 households).

Families in these communities, and to a lesser extent herders everywhere in the West Bank, face deepening poverty and food insecurity, they are heavily in debt and therefore are under increasing pressure to sell their livestock Most herders report that even if they sold all their sheep at current prices they would not be able to clear their debts. Selling up would also mean they would have no source of future income. Prices for good quality barley fodder are at record high levels and cheaper alternative types of feed cause animal malnutrition resulting in a variety of health problems including high abortion and young lamb mortality rates. In addition to fodder, sheep need plentiful water and as the drought continues extra water must be bought.
Unless there is immediate support to herders with subsidized feed and water, many will be forced out of herding and the livelihood system that has supported them for centuries will be lost. They will no longer use traditional grazing lands and thus risk loosing access to them. ...
If herding as an option is not maintained, the majority of herding families will join the long aid lists. Given the limited skill range of most of the herders, the high levels of unemployment and general economic recession, the likelihood of such families returning to economic independence in the fore-seeable future is slight.

Report from Christian Peacemaker Teams Reprinted with Permission

Cross-Posted at Booman Tribune and Street Prophets

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Summer Days in the South Hebron Hills

Reprinted with Permission from Christian Peacemaker Teams

Summer Days in the South Hebron Hills

by Jessica Frederick

What are summer days like here in the South Hebron Hills? It depends.

On a good day, we sit with Palestinian shepherds as they nonviolently resist Israeli settlers, who have tried to violently seize land. The Palestinians graze sheep on lands where Israeli settlers have attacked, stoned, shot at, and threatened Palestinian shepherds. We sit, listen to the shepherds tell us stories of life on the land before the Israeli occupation. We laugh together, and the shepherds teach us how to flick tiny pebbles between our two index fingers.

On a bad day, the Israeli military builds a roadblock on the main road to Yatta, the nearest city in the area – a crucial road for medical services, education, and water aid in a year of severe drought.

On a good day, the Palestinian villagers work together to remove the roadblock.

On a bad day, Israeli settlers, sometimes masked, come to land where Palestinian shepherds are grazing, and they throw stones, or attack and hospitalize, the shepherds.

On a good day, we join Palestinian children as they graze their sheep – and then the children climb up fig trees and throw to us their delicious fruit. We join their family for a fabulous lunch of bread, eggs, and olive oil, followed by juicy slices of watermelon. And we laugh and joke and have lessons in Arabic, English, and Italian.

On a bad day, the Israeli military issues demolition orders on five homes in the area, and the village cistern in At-Tuwani.

On a good day, we sit and talk late into the night with our Palestinian friends, laughing with the funniest women in At-Tuwani, and listening to ways in which the village is organizing its nonviolent resistance.

These days blur together – they are often sweet and bitter simultaneously. Yet, on good days – I renew my belief that children and stories, love and watermelon, courage and nonviolence, will eventually triumph over military and propaganda, hate and weapons, cowardice and violence. On good days, I am amazed and inspired by the strength and devotion to nonviolent resistance of the Palestinian villagers here in the South Hebron Hills.

And, on good days, I know that, no matter what happens, the Palestinian people are more powerful than the Israeli occupation.

And these good days are every day.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Sabeel Wave of Prayer

Each Thursday at noon in Jerusalem, Sabeel holds a Communion service that is open to the community. It is a time to join together to celebrate the Eucharist, to discuss how the scriptures apply to our lives today, and to pray for the specific needs of this region. Following the 2006 Sabeel International Conference, the Friends of Sabeel coordinators met and discussed the idea of "Waves of Prayer." The premise is that in their respective time zones, individuals and groups around the world will pray together at 12:00 on Thursdays, in solidarity with Sabeel in Jerusalem and with "Friends of Sabeel" worldwide. Starting in Australia, passing through Palestine, and on around the world we will pray for Peace with Justice and focus on specific issues each week.

Wave of Prayer for Thursday, July 17, 2008

As news of corruption scandals in the Israeli government dominate the local news, we pray for all those in public office who are tempted by power and corruption. We pray for all those without access to power for whom such news might lead to a lack of trust in the political process and in the hope for a peace brokered by governments.

We pray for the Syrian Orthodox community as the Sabeel young people witness with various members of the community this weekend in commemoration of their genocide of 1914.

We thank God for the continuing ministry of Sabeel's Open Forum, a space where people can share in discussion the pressing questions that face the Christian community. We reflect on the meeting this Tuesday where the local community gathered to share and strategize on the problems in Jerusalem with increasing settlement growth inside East Jerusalem.

We celebrate the peace tapestry project initiated by Friends of Sabeel Netherlands. As we begin to gather the pieces together, we are in awe of the multiple visions of peace that the International Friends of Sabeel have collected.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Whole World Watching? CUT!!!: Blocking Journalists and Filmmakers from Palestine

A couple of recent petitions highlight the means by which the Government of Israel is impeding the outside world from seeing the realities inside the Palestinian Occupied Territories. In recent months, GOI has denied access to some international filmmakers from filming or showing films in the West Bank. In addition, the treatment by Shin Bet and the IDF of an award-winning journalist upon his return to the Occupied Territories has highlighted many other abuses suffered by journalists in recent years.

Since 2000, GOI has intensified its policy of excluding Palestinians who have left the Occupied Territories, even for short periods of time, from returning to their houses and homeland, a practice that Right To Enter calls "Silent Transfer":

Israel has recently intensified its practices regarding restriction of entry or re-entry to the oPt with respect to residents of and visitors to the OPT (Gaza Strip and West Bank) who do not hold a Palestinian ID issued by the Israeli Ministry of Interior. A Palestinian ID is a personal identification document issued by Israel for Palestinian residents and their children.

Israel is now systematically denying entry or return to the oPt via the international Israeli borders at Ben Gurion Airport, Allenby Bridge, Sheikh Hussein Bridge, and Eilat. Most of those affected are Palestinian natives, spouses, children, parents and other close relatives of Palestinian ID holders. The policy affects entire families or individual members of families, like the father or the mother of minor children. As a result, families are torn apart, jobs or businesses lost and personal property becomes inaccessible.

The practice applies to people with and without Palestinian or Arab origins, and to those with and without local family relations. In addition to families, effected groups include professionals and academics who are in the oPt for teaching, research, the arts, business, visiting or volunteering their services. Most of these individuals have never overstayed their visitor's visas or breached any visiting regulations. It must be noted that Israel has reserved for itself the exclusive power of civil registration and issuing IDs for Palestinians, visitors' visas and work permits for non-ID holders to the oPt. By these means it is conducting a swift and effective 'silent transfer' of the Palestinian population while the latter is living at the mercy of the Israeli occupation authorities. In addition to the people already locked out, there are many more still in the oPt and at risk of deportation or re-entry denial once they exit the country's international borders to comply with Israeli visa regulations.

A recent petition highlights the problems of filmmakers in accessing the Occupied Territories. An Italian filmmaker has been prevented from showing films in the West Bank. A Palestinian-French filmmaker has been prevented from shooting a feature film in Jerusalem as well as visiting her ailing, elderly mother in the West Bank. A third woman,

Palestinian-American filmmaker, Annemarie Jacir, traveling to the West Bank for the world premiere of her feature film "Salt of the Sea," was also denied entry at Allenby. Jacir's film, is slated for the Cannes Film Festival 2008 as an Official Selection,
The film was to be screened in al-Ama'ri refugee camp at the invitation of the French Consulate in Jerusalem, which supported production of the film, and the International Art Academy in Ramallah, which was co-sponsoring the screening. Jacir has been barred from entering the OPT for the past 9 months. As a result, shooting for one of the main scenes of the film had to be relocated to Marseilles, France. Jacir was held at Allenby Bridge for 6 hours and repeatedly interrogated before she was escorted by two of the agents out of the terminal and onto a bus back to Jordan. Jacir was informed that the Israeli Ministry of Interior had denied her entry
because "you spend too much time here."

On June 26, Mohammad Omer was returning to the Occupied Territories after having received the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, when he was brutally interrogated by Shin Bet at the Allenby crossing into the West Bank. In response to this cruelty, WRMEA, has circulated a petition stating:

We call on the Israeli government to end its harassment of travelers and journalists. When Israel targets journalists it infringes on a basic pillar of democracy, freedom of the press. Human beings, even those ruled for decades by an occupying power, have the right to leave home and return safely, without interference, and the right to freedom of speech.

Unfortunately, what happened to Omer was not an isolated incident.

The government prefers stories to be filed from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, where they are subject to censorship, and allows few, if any, international journalists to enter the West Bank and Gaza. Israel censors, harasses and even kills Palestinian journalists who are trying to report on conditions in the occupied territories.
At least eight journalists have been killed in the West Bank and Gaza since 2001, seven of them in attacks by Israel Defense Forces, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists research.*

*These include:

- Fadel Shana, a Reuters cameraman, was killed, and soundman Wafa Abu Mizyed was wounded, on April 16, 2008 in the Gaza Strip after they stopped their car, bearing the markings “TV” and “Press,” to film Israeli military forces several hundred meters away. Shana was filming an Israeli tank when it fired on the men.
- Imad Ghanem, a cameraman for the Hamas-affiliated satellite channel Al-Aqsa, was killed by shells fired from Israeli tanks in July 2007 in the Gaza Strip as he was filming paramedics transferring victims of an Israeli tank attack.
- Mohamed Abu Halima, a student correspondent for university-affiliated Al-Najah radio station, was killed on March 22, 2004 while reporting on Israeli troop activity at the entrance to the Balata refugee camp, outside the West Bank city of Nablus.
- Nazih Darwazeh a cameraman for Associated Press Television News, was killed by Israeli forces in Nablus on April 19, 2003 while filming clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli troops. Darwazeh was wearing a fluorescent jacket marked “Press,” and he and other journalists shouted loudly to Israeli troops in both English and Hebrew indicating that they were with the media before the shooting.
- James Miller, a British free-lance cameraman and award-winning documentary filmmaker, was fatally shot in Rafah in the Gaza Strip on May 2, 2003. His producer Saira Shah, and translator Abdul Rahman Abdullah attempted to identify themselves to the Israeli troops in the area while they were leaving. The journalists were wearing jackets and helmets marked “TV,” and Abdullah was waving a white flag while Miller used a flashlight to illuminate the flag.

The citation for Omer's award reads “Every day, he reports from a war zone, where he is also a prisoner. His homeland, Gaza, is surrounded, starved, attacked, forgotten. He is a profoundly humane witness to one of the great injustices of our time. He is the voice of the voiceless.” Not only Mohammad Omer's words, but his life experience give witness to the risks that thousands of Palestinians and many journalists face everyday.

Cross-posted at Booman Tribune

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hebron settlers decry "Activities of Leftist Organizations"

The extremist settlers whose occupation of Hebron's Old City has been growing and strengthening for decades have recently convinced the Israeli military to exclude not only most Palestinians, but also members of Israeli Peace groups and International Christian Peace groups from what they term "the Sterile Zone." In the process, the settlers have put out literature labeling groups from Peace Churches (CPT) and the World Council of Churches (EAPPI) as "antisemitic Christians [who] encourage terrorism and endanger the lives of soldiers and civilians alike" and who "engage in constant provocations and incitement."


11 July 2008

Recently, settlers in Hebron have increasingly demanded that the Israeli police remove Israeli and international peace and human rights organizations from the H-2 area of the city. Soldiers and settlers have succeeded in preventing two Israeli Breaking the Silence tours from entering Hebron, and police have informed CPTers they may not be in any of the areas where they might have contact with settlers—areas in which settlers attack and harass their Palestinian neighbors. Below is a section from the brochure that the settlers have been handing out to tour groups, entitled, "Inequality & Discrimination in Hebron. In contrast to the false anti-Jewish, and anti-Israeli propaganda, here are the real facts: FACTS." A photo accompanying the "Activities of Leftist Organizations" section in the brochure (quoted below) shows TIPH observers standing in front of a person who is hiding his/her face. Its caption reads, "TIPH observers cooperating with left-wing anarchists." Information on the various organizations cited has been added in brackets.

"Various international and anti-national organizations have targeted Hebron for hostile activities.

"Most of these organizations are funded by anti-Israel foundations, enemy states and European governments. They disseminate falsehoods and conduct propagandistic field trips, media shows, tendentious visits with VIPs, and sundry provocations in order to substantiate what they call "discrimination against Arabs.

"For example, the international Solidarity Movement (ISM) [ ],a blatantly pro-Palestinian-Arab organization, floods Hebron with "anarchists"from all over the world to harass the security forces that are charged with protecting the Jews in the tiny Israeli zone. Organizations such as Ecumenical Escorters [Meaning members of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel.], Christian Peacekeeping Team [], among others engage in constant provocations and incitement. Groups of antisemitic Christians encourage terrorism and endanger the lives of soldiers and civilians alike. Israeli leftist organizations such as B'tselem [The premier Israeli human rights organization, see], Machsom Watch [an Israeli women's organization that monitors the treatment of civilians at military checkpoints.], Sons of Avraham [—english], and Breaking the Silence [] love to tour the city with groups of Israelis, non-Israelis, and diplomats, inciting against the Jews of Hebron by giving false, warped presentations.

"Especially grave is the fact that these organizations act in full cooperation with the observers of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), even though TIPH is supposed to be objective and to refrain from provocations. Furthermore, these organizations act with the cooperation of Palestinian disrupters of order and marauders to undermine the operations of the Israeli Defence Forces.

"The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) [] recently joined the activities of the Left in Hebron, acting continually by legal means to breach and trample the Jewish citizens' rights to life and safety."

The full text of the brochure is available {here}

In reality, the presence of volunteers from these peace groups reduce violence in downtown Hebron. EAPPI's activities include:

- Participate in the daily life and work of Palestinian and Israeli civil society, Churches and Christian communities.
- Be visibly present in vulnerable communities, locations or events, e.g. near Israeli settlements and the wall/fence, schools and homes, fields & orchards.
- Actively listen to local people's experiences and give voice to peoples' daily suffering under occupation and write or speak about these experiences in their reports and public speaking engagements.
- Monitor the conduct of Israeli soldiers (e.g. at checkpoints and other barriers and during demonstrations and other military actions) and contact relevant organizations and authorities to request intervention.
- Engage in non-violent ways with perpetrators of human rights abuses.
- Produce high quality, first-hand written materials, testimonies and analysis.
- Report on violations of human rights and international humanitarian law that EAs witness and document and use these reports to inform governments and intergovernmental bodies and press them to take action.
- Engage with the media locally, nationally and internationally.
- Be part of international advocacy and networking activities that highlight the human rights situation in Palestine.

CPT's activities include:

- Monitors treatment of Palestinians at Israeli military checkpoints and roadblocks.
- Intervenes during Israeli military invasions of Palestinian homes.
- Continues regular visits, along with Israeli peace activists, to Palestinian families facing harassment from Israeli settlers
- Provides daily accompaniment for Palestinian children walking to and from school
- Accompanies Palestinian shepherds and farmers to fields where they are exposed to assault by extremist settlers
- Joins Israeli peace groups to replant olive groves destroyed by settlers
- Joins Palestinians and Israeli peace activists in acts of public nonviolent resistance to Israel's construction of a "security wall" which cuts through Palestinian territory.

Unfortunately, without access to the "Sterile Zone," peace groups will not be able to monitor and, in some cases, prevent the daily abuses of human rights that are inflicted there. The settlers have already succeeded in driving out most Palestinians from "the Sterile Zone:" over 200 shops have been shut down and only four Palestinian families still have access to their homes in the district. If the settlers have their way, Hebron's "Sterile Zone" soon may be entirely ethnically cleansed of Palestinians.

Report from Christian Peacemaker Teams Reprinted with Permission

Cross-posted at Booman Tribune

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Sabeel Wave of Prayer

Each Thursday at noon in Jerusalem, Sabeel holds a Communion service that is open to the community. It is a time to join together to celebrate the Eucharist, to discuss how the scriptures apply to our lives today, and to pray for the specific needs of this region. Following the 2006 Sabeel International Conference, the Friends of Sabeel coordinators met and discussed the idea of "Waves of Prayer." The premise is that in their respective time zones, individuals and groups around the world will pray together at 12:00 on Thursdays, in solidarity with Sabeel in Jerusalem and with "Friends of Sabeel" worldwide. Starting in Australia, passing through Palestine, and on around the world we will pray for Peace with Justice and focus on specific issues each week.

Wave of Prayer for Thursday, July 10, 2008

We pray for the small steps forward in this region. We pray that the fragile Gaza ceasefire, the prisoner swap that has been negotiated between Israel and Hezbollah, and ongoing efforts at reconciliation between Palestinian political parties can be signs of hope for a more peaceful and cooperative future.

We pray for residents of the West Bank village of Na'alin, in the Ramallah district. The Israeli military has imposed a curfew in Na'alin in retaliation for continuing demonstrations against the construction of the apartheid Wall on their land. The route of the Wall was declared illegal by the International Court of Justice four years ago this Wednesday. We pray that in spite of violent retaliation, nonviolent resistance to the Wall and to occupation will continue to grow in Na'alin and throughout the occupied Palestinian territories.

We pray for the Birzeit Festival which begins on Sunday, July 13 for one week. We are grateful for this opportunity for residents of this Christian village on the West Bank to share their culture, art, crafts, and traditions. We pray that the festival will be encourage and empower the local community during this difficult time.

We thank God for the successful Friends of Sabeel North America conference held in at the Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice in San Diego last weekend. We are grateful for this opportunity to share the truth about the situation for Palestinians and hope that this conference planted seeds of justice and peace in the hearts of those who attended.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Hebron's "Sterile Zone": Martial Law Tightening

The Israeli Military has recently taken further measures to reduce the safety and access of Palestinians to the Old City in Hebron by forbidding members of Christian Peacemaker Teams and Israeli peace groups from accessing what the military terms, "The Sterile Zone." The military presence in much of Hebron (H1) is similar to that of other Palestinian cities, but the Old City (H2) is quite different because of the presence of Israeli settlers, some of the most right-wing of all settlers. Because of the settlements, the IDF troops severely restrict the access of Palestinians to the Old City. According to B'Tselem and the Association of Civil Rights in Israel, "violence, arbitrary house searches, seizure of houses, harassment, detaining passers-by, and humiliating treatment have become part of daily reality for Palestinians and have led many of them to move to safer places".

After a 13-year-old process of closures and segregation which began – ironically – with the Goldstein attack on Palestinians in the mosque, and continued through the intifada, there are now 304 closed shops and warehouses – 218 of them shut down by military order. The whole of the "sterile zone" protecting the settlements is closed to Palestinian vehicles. And the central section of Shuhada Street is closed to Palestinian pedestrians, except for four families who still live on this once densely populated but now desolate artery. The term used by B'Tselem and ACRI for the steady Palestinian depopulation of the area is "enforced eviction". Jan Kristiansen, a former head of the (already decade-old) Temporary International Presence in Hebron, described it as "ethnic cleansing".
In December 2006, ACRI challenged the ban on pedestrians using much of Shuhada Street, pointing out that it had not been sanctioned by a written military order. The Army agreed it was indeed a mistake and issued a directive cancelling the prohibition. Some prominent local Palestinians were allowed to walk along the street after detention and body searches, and with a substantial military escort. Within a week the Palestinians were again told they were not allowed to use the route.

A few days ago, members of CPT were told that they could no longer give tours in the Old City's "Sterile Zone" around Shuhada Street because they do not have an Israeli guide license. A few months ago, British journalist, Donald MacIntyre took such a tour with Yehuda Shaul, a member of the Israeli peace group, Breaking the Silence. Then he compared what he had seen and heard on that tour with the Israeli military's account:

A tour round the inner city with a senior Israeli military official gives a very different take on Hebron from Shaul's. The official, who insists on anonymity, argues that while Palestinians are restricted in only three per cent of the city, Israelis are either barred or heavily restricted in the other 97 per cent. While ACRI and B'Tselem pointed out that a resident of the Old City wanting to cross one side of Shuhada Street to the other needs to go round the entire city centre and pass through a number of checkpoints, the Army insists that the restrictions on pedestrian movement in the city are "minimal". As for vehicles, the Army says that those carrying supplies like construction materials are allowed through with prior authorisation and that the required detours add only 10 minutes to the journey for Palestinians. The official stresses that the closures are needed for security reasons and insists, "I am responsible for the lives of Palestinians and Israelis. I am not just in charge of the Israelis."

This, of course, goes to the heart of the question of who bears the real burden of keeping the settlers safe. In the words of the ACRI/B'Tselem report, "Israeli law-enforcement authorities and security forces have made the entire Palestinian population pay the price for protecting Israeli settlement in the city." In doing so, it caused "the economic collapse of the centre of Hebron and drove many Palestinians out of the area."

Unfortunately, limiting CPT's access to "the Sterile Zone" has even greater consequences than that visiting internationals might only hear the distorted narrative that the IDF will approve for tours:


Israeli martial law imposes further restrictions on Palestinians, CPTers, Israeli peace groups, regardless of Israeli court decision

5 July 2008

On Tuesday, 1 July 2008, CPTer Kathleen Kern was leading a delegation of Presbyterians up Shuhada Street, when a police jeep pulled up beside her. Kern noted that the delegation was composed of Americans, whose tax dollars had paid for improvements on Shuhada Street, undertaken with the stipulation that everyone Israelis and Palestinians--could use it. The officer said the group could continue, but Kern could not because "CPT and Bnei Avraham" (Sons of Abraham-a group committed to Palestinian and Israeli reconciliation in Hebron) were not licensed tour guides.

On 4 July, when Kern went to meet an Israeli friend, Q., who came on an Israeli bus that stops in the Ibrahimi Mosque/Cave of Machpelah area, the police stopped both her and Q. They again reminded Kern that she could not go near the settlements, for her own safety, because "the local citizens" (meaning settlers) did not want her around. They then entered Q.'s Israeli ID into a computer aboard the police jeep. Kern told him that she and Q had no intention of going to the settlements. As she and Q. began walking toward the team's apartment, Border Police stopped them and said that Q., since he was Jewish, could not enter the market, the only remaining route to the team's apartment, since numerous entrances have been closed to Palestinians and internationals' use. He decided to catch the bus back to Jerusalem that was arriving in ten minutes, because if he and she tried to enter the market a roundabout way and failed, he would have to wait for four hours to catch the next bus.

As Kern waited for the bus with Q., the police officer who had stopped her on 1 July approached and told her she was not allowed in the area. She noted that he had just mentioned Shuhada Street, not the entire mosque area, and he told her Shuhada Street, the park in front of the mosque, and Tel Rumeida were off limits to CPT. What if we need to go to the police?" she asked, pointing to the station in front of the Mosque. "You can come to the police station," he said. He assured her that Q. would be safe and made a point of telling him that TIPH—a monitoring group authorized by the Israeli government--was allowed to be in the area, just not CPT.

The areas that the police indicated were off-limits include areas where CPTers are present to ensure that Palestinian children get safely to school during the school year, and areas where settlers frequently attack their Palestinian neighbors. The restrictions the police are enforcing on Israeli peace groups also mean that Palestinians in the area will never meet Israelis who support their human rights; they will have connections only with Israelis who harass and abuse them.

In December 2006, the Israeli High Court ruled that Palestinians must have free access to Shuhada Street, but the Israeli military and police continue to maintain the area for settler use only, referring to it as a "sterile" zone.

Report Reprinted with Permission by Christian Peacemaker Teams

Cross-Posted at Booman Tribune and Street Prophets

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Sabeel Wave of Prayer

Each Thursday at noon in Jerusalem, Sabeel holds a Communion service that is open to the community. It is a time to join together to celebrate the Eucharist, to discuss how the scriptures apply to our lives today, and to pray for the specific needs of this region. Following the 2006 Sabeel International Conference, the Friends of Sabeel coordinators met and discussed the idea of "Waves of Prayer." The premise is that in their respective time zones, individuals and groups around the world will pray together at 12:00 on Thursdays, in solidarity with Sabeel in Jerusalem and with "Friends of Sabeel" worldwide. Starting in Australia, passing through Palestine, and on around the world we will pray for Peace with Justice and focus on specific issues each week.

Wave of Prayer for Thursday, July 3, 2008

We pray for all people who are struggling with serious economic situations. We pray for those facing poverty in our local communities, from Gaza to Nablus, as well as for those around the world, including in the world's richest countries, who struggle to make ends meet. We pray that the church worldwide will remember its commitment to the poor.

We pray for the safety of the children during summer vacations. We particularly lift up the orphanages in Hebron which remain under closure orders from the Israeli military. We pray that this situation will come to a just resolution and that all of the children of this land will be able to live in a more just and safe future.

We lift in prayer the upcoming Sabeel young adult trip on Saturday to Tiberias to visit demolished villages of 1948 and meet former residents. We pray that this visit will be another step to enable these Palestinian Christian young adults to gain a greater understanding of their own history.

We pray for new members and energy in our new Friends of Sabeel Germany and all chapters as they reach out to others who want to work for peace and justice in the Holy Land.

Reprinted with Permission

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

IDF fatally shoots Palestinian youth in Beit Ummar

Five months after the incidents in Beit Ummar subsequent to the death of the Sabarna cousins, once again a teenager has been killed by the IDF and the IDF's presence at the funeral leads to the injury of more Palestinians. Bekah Wolf of the Palestine Solidarity Project, located in Beit Ummar, gives background for the incident:

The Israeli military has been slowly escalating its intimidation tactics in Beit Ommar over the last three days, often patrolling the streets at sundown, provoking youth by parking outside of the mosque and waiting for young boys to come and throw stones before shooting tear gas and rubber-coated steel bullets.

The increasing terrorization of the village culminated at approximately 9:30 pm Friday when a 17 year old boy, Mohammed Anwar Al-Alami, was shot in the heart and killed.

Soldiers first entered the southern West Bank’s town at 4 pm and began slowly circling the village, often stopping in the center of town, shooting a few tear gas canisters, but otherwise staying in their jeeps. They were not searching houses nor made any other indication that they were engaging in any authorized operation. Shortly after sundown, at approximately 9 pm, they began arresting residents: blindfolding and handcuffing nine men in total and bringing them to the entrance of the village. Four were later released, five remain in Israeli custody. Several more jeeps and Armored Personnel Carriers (APC's) entered the village. Young boys began throwing stones and empty bottles which bounced off the armored military vehicles harmlessly. Still, for the Israeli military a rock against reinforced metal is reason enough to end the life of a young man, about to finish his final exams and graduate from high school.

Mohammed was quickly rushed to the hospital, but he had been shot in the chest and the bullet entered his heart, killing him almost instantly.

The account continues from Christian Peacemaker Teams:

On Friday, 27 June around 11:00 p.m., an Israeli soldier in Beit Ummar, a village north of Hebron, shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian youth, Mohammad Al-Alameh, member of a family with whom the Christian Peacemaker Teams has had frequent contact over the years.

The shooting occurred minutes after local contacts in Beit Ummar made a call to the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Hebron, saying that the Israeli soldiers were entering homes and detaining civilians. Two CPTers, Tarek Abuata and Marius van Hoogstraten, rushed to the village by taxi, accompanied by Nathan Harrington, a visitor to CPT, who was on crutches.

When the team arrived half an hour later, rocks littered the main street. Israeli soldiers marched up and down the block with assault rifles held in a firing position, amid clusters of Palestinian men huddled in quiet shock.

Abuata attempted to photograph the troops, but was tackled to the ground without warning by an Israeli soldier. Another soldier knocked Harrington off his crutches when he approached to help Abuata. While Abuata and Harrington sat on the pavement, a third soldier threatened Van Hoogstraten and demanded his video camera. He removed the tape before returning the camera to Van Hoogstraten.

Abuata rose and confronted the soldiers, saying, "You killed a 17-year-old boy tonight. Why? His blood is on your hands." The soldier nearest to him smiled, and Abuata asked, "Why are you smiling? Do you have no conscience? Will you do anything the government orders you to do? Are you not accountable to God?"

More troops emerged from jeeps and advanced up the street. The assembled men of the village did not respond. CPTers followed the soldiers and Abuata continued: "What you are doing is wrong. Why are your fingers on the trigger? How would you feel if a foreign army came to your city with guns drawn? This is an illegal occupation!"

The soldiers finally climbed into their jeeps and raced off, throwing a sound bomb that caused several Beit Ummar villagers and the CPTers to hit the pavement.

The following morning, Van Hoogstraten and Abuata accompanied the Al-Alameh family and a large crowd to bring the body from the hospital in Hebron to the family's house, and then to the mosque. Two armored vehicles parked between the watchtower at the entrance to the village and the cemetery gate. Soldiers stood nearby, including the officer who claimed to have shot the youth.

Community leaders kept young men away from the soldiers, but eventually someone lobbed a stone at one of the jeeps. Though an officer responded by shooting live ammunition, no one was injured.

As the throng returned after the conclusion of burial, the army followed them into the village. Over the next hour, CPTers witnessed intermittent exchanges of stones and gunfire and heard reports that one man from Beit Ummar sustained a head injury and another an injury to the shoulder.

A link to video showing Abuata engaging the soldiers is available at

The story by Christian Peacemaker Teams is reproduced with permission.

Cross-posted at Booman Tribune and Daily Kos.