YOUR September peace mail from PALESTINE
I’m a volunteer working for the Ecumenical
Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel
(EAPPI). I left my home in Australia to live in
Jerusalem for three months in an effort to provide
Palestinian communities with a protective presence.
My job as an Ecumenical Accompanier (EA) is to
stand in witness and solidarity with Palestinian
communities at risk of human rights abuses.
EAPPI / J. Nydegger
During my time in Jerusalem, I became close to a family who have survived a terrible experience. The grandmother, Um, is 80 years old, and shares a house with her two sons who are blind, their wives and seven young grandchildren.
Back in March 2015, the Nur family had received a ‘clean-up’ order from the municipality, directing them to remove a low wall in front of their house, which they did. A few days later the household woke up to the sound of people shouting, dogs barking, trucks in the street and helicopters overhead. Soldiers from the Israeli military entered the house and beat the two sons, pushing their 80 year old mother to the ground. The soldiers told the family: “This is the way we clean.” They were told that their house was to be demolished that day.
The sons protested that they hadn’t received a demolition notice and begged for time to clear their belongings out of the house. The soldiers took no notice of this. They moved the family outside and began bulldozing the home with all their belongings inside. They cleared the land of trees and the children watched as their chickens and rabbits were buried in the rubble.
My team from EAPPI recorded their story and took photos of what was left of their home. The area was to become a park land for the residents of a nearby Israeli settlement. The Nur family have to now make-do with the two rooms of their house that remain standing. Through EAPPI, we used our network of charities to arrange counselling for the children and legal representation for the family going forward.
It was a comfort to the family to know the EAPPI team care and will listen to what has happened to them. My work is very confronting but it is a great reward to know that my presence as an EA helps the Palestinians. One of the sons, Nureddin, said when we were last there: “When you visit, my children are less nervous, more calm – because someone knows our story.”
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Please give generously to continue our life-saving work here or find out about how you can become an Act for Peace Changemaker.
Thanks to your support of EAPPI, the presence of Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs) has had a significant impact on the lives of those living in the West Bank. In terms of EAPPI and EAs effectiveness day to day, we know that when EAs are present:
- Wait times at checkpoints and violent harassment by Israeli Defence Force personnel at checkpoints are reduced.
- Access to holy places for both Palestinian Christians and Muslims is improved when EAs monitor checkpoints surrounding these areas and are present in these areas.
- Violent harassment by both settlers and soldiers of Palestinians working in agricultural fields, especially during the olive harvest, is reduced.
- Violent harassment, again by settlers or soldiers, of school children travelling to and from school is reduced when they are accompanied by EAs. Further, the schools themselves are harassed less when EAs are present at school during the day. In 2014, at least 3,500 Palestinian children in the West Bank had improved access to education because of our accompaniment.
Your support in funding the program internationally and for Australians participating in the three month placement is vital in keeping this important work going. Thank you for your ongoing support of this work.
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