YOUR June peace mail from PALESTINE and ISRAEL
My name is Imad* and I have a store in the marketplace in Hebron, Palestine. Hebron is an important city for many religions because the prophet Abraham and his sons are buried here. Sadly, it is also a divided city – there are 200,000 Muslims in this city and 600 Israeli settlers. All of us shopkeepers know that settlements are illegal under international law, but there is nothing we can do.
Image credit: Ben Littlejohn/Act for Peace
The occupation and security restrictions make it very hard for us to make a living. There is a lot of harassment and pressure from the settlers to push us out. But I am 55 years old, where would I go? I have been doing business here for many years, and it is my home.
The Israeli army closed our main shopping street, Shuhada Street, since 2002 for ‘security reasons’ so no one is allowed to have a shop open there now and only Settlers can pass by freely. For the streets that are still open, the Israeli soldiers use the checkpoint turnstiles to stop people coming into the marketplace. Sometimes, the soldiers make customers and suppliers wait for a long time just to enter. The soldiers seem to hope that the customers will get fed up and walk away. People say they feel threatened when they come and buy from us. These days, most people shop elsewhere where they feel more safe and secure.
It is very hard for us. Over the years, as people have left or were forced out, settlers started to live in the apartments above the shops. The settlers have at times thrown all kinds of garbage and trash down on us from their apartments. Some shopkeepers have put up a metal net overhead to stop things falling through but still sometimes settlers pour liquids such as dirty water and bleach down on people in the market. All of it happens in front of Israeli soldiers. We try to stay steadfast and live each day in peace.
We are so grateful to Act for Peace and the Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) that come from all over the world to monitor the situation and try to keep things calm. When customers and suppliers can get through the checkpoints, we in the market can make a living. The EAs come and speak with us, too. They find out what problems or troubles we’ve had. And it’s not just here where they make a difference. EAs help our kids by taking them to school early in the morning and are with them when they leave school in the afternoon.
Our lives would be harder without the EAs doing this important job. They help us here and it is a comfort to know that when they return home they tell people all over the world know what is taking place in Hebron. Thank you for supporting us.
*Imad’s name has been changed to protect his identity.
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Israel places crippling restrictions on the movement of Palestinian people in the West Bank, including around illegal settlements and military checkpoints. This forces people to take time-consuming detours and restricts their access to work.
Keep up to date with the EAPPI program on their blog: blog.eappi.org
Please give generously to continue our life-saving work here or find out about how you can become an Act for Peace Regular Giver.
Appalled by the pain and injustice they were witnessing in their communities during the second Intifada, in 2002 local church leaders asked the World Council of Churches to create an international presence in the country resulting in the formation of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI). Since 2002, 1,800 Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) have been deployed to provide a protective presence in vulnerable communities. The program vision is of a just peace, where all people in Palestine and Israel can live with freedom, dignity and security based on international law and human rights.
Your regular gifts support volunteers from Australia to spend three months living alongside communities under military occupation in Palestine and Israel. The volunteers, called Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs), provide a protective presence for families at risk of harassment; monitor human rights abuses; and, when they come back to Australia, use their firsthand experience to advocate for international pressure on decision makers to comply with humanitarian law and to find long-term solutions to the conflict.
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- $1,476 can cover the costs of recruiting & training an EA ready for deployment.
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Are you interested in becoming an Ecumenical Accompanier?
EAPPI Australia is seeking passionate individuals who share our vision of a just peace in Palestine and Israel to serve as Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs). After intensive pre-deployment training and preparation, you’ll be ready to put on the distinctive EAPPI vest and join the other members of your multi-national team placed in one of seven locations throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Over the following three months you’ll live alongside a local community under occupation; providing a protective presence for families at risk of harassment and monitoring human rights abuses when they occur.
To find out more visit our EAPPI page actforpeace.org.au/EAPPI or contact Steph and Tia on 1800 025 101 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
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