On the Ground in Palestine, Nov. 20, 2017

On the Ground in Palestine, Nov. 20, 2017

On Nov. 3 at around 7 a.m., Civil Administration officials, together with security forces and four bulldozers arrived at the Badu al-Baba community near ‘Eizariyah, northeast of Jerusalem.  The forces destroyed three pre-fab homes that housed four families, leaving 27 people, including 18 children and youths, homeless. The forces also demolished two bathroom stalls donated by a humanitarian aid organization. The most recent abuse the community was subjected to by the authorities was on Sept. 11 when forces confiscated equipment used to repair the community’s access road.

 

On July 22, three residents of Khirbet Ibziq in the northern Jordan Valley were grazing their flocks on nearby pastureland when a dud – unexploded munitions – went off, killing ‘Udai Nawaj’ah, 16. At least two other Palestinians have been killed in the Jordan Valley in similar circumstances since 2014. The military trains close to Palestinian communities as part of a policy aimed at taking over the area, and does not make sure to remove unexploded ammunition. This illegal practice violates the residents’ rights and endangers their lives.

 

According to Sabeel, Jerusalem: 
A new report by Israeli rights groups B’Tselem and HaMoked  accuses Israel of “systematic abuse” of young Palestinians arrested after attending protests in occupied East Jerusalem, ignoring laws to protect teenagers’ rights, detaining them in the middle of the night and questioning without a lawyer present.

Due to American intervention, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is delaying bringing the “Greater Jerusalem Bill” for a vote during his cabinet meeting. The bill would annex a number of the illegal Israeli Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank to the city of Jerusalem in order to make the Jewish population greater than the Arab population, strengthening the Jewish hold on the city.

 

A group of British activists, organized by our friends in Amos Trust, walked for 174 days from the U.K. to Jerusalem as a symbolic act of penance to apologize for the injustice of the “Balfour Declaration” which marks its 100th anniversary this November. The activists concluded their visit with a worship service at St. George’s cathedral in Jerusalem.

 

Seven Palestinians were killed, and 12 others were wounded after Israeli forces blew up an underground tunnel between the southern Gaza Strip and Israel at the end of last month.

 

The Times of Israel reported Nov. 8 that Jerusalem authorities granted building permits for 240 homes in East Jerusalem.

From the Middle East Working Group

 

 

On the Ground in Palestine, Oct. 22, 2017

On the Ground in Palestine, Oct. 22, 2017

The olive harvest has started in Palestine. Many Palestinian communities, who earn their living from this harvest, are unable to reach their olive groves due to the separation wall, or their proximity to illegal settlements, or because of military intervention.

 Rev. Naim Ateek, a co-founder of Sabeel, has published his third book “A Palestinian Theology of Liberation: The Bible, Justice, and the Palestine-Israel Conflict.”

Earlier this month, Israeli forces demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib for the 119th time. The temporary aluminum shelters, which had been put up since the last time the village was demolished, were bulldozed, and the residents of the town have been ordered to pay for the cumulative cost of demolitions. Members of the village committee say that residents will continue to rebuild their homes and remain in the village.

On Monday, Oct. 2, three Palestinians, including an 11-year-old boy, were injured when Israeli forces raided Shufat refugee camp in occupied East Jerusalem.

On Oct. 11 and 12, three Palestinians were injured in clashes that erupted with Israeli occupation forces after settlers raided Jospeh’s Tomb in Nablus city.

Last Sunday, Israeli settlers stole picked olives from dozens of trees belonging to Palestinian farmers from the occupied West Bank districts of Ramallah and Nablus. Israelis rarely face consequences for such attacks committed against Palestinians.

Hamas and Fatah have signed a landmark reconciliation deal in Cairo in a key step towards ending a ten-year-long rift. The deal will see administrative control of the Gaza Strip handed to a Fatah-backed unity government.

All info from Sabeel, Jerusalem

On the Ground in Palestine, Oct. 4, 2017

On the Ground in Palestine, Oct. 4, 2017

Since the beginning of September, Israeli forces demolished parts of the three different Palestinian Muslim cemeteries in Jerusalem. Israel claims that the demolitions are necessary to make way for building a national park in the area or to expand two existing streets. The Palestinians of Jerusalem are outraged as photos emerge of open graves exposing the remains of their dead.

Since 2009, over 50 Christian and Muslim holy sites have been vandalized in Israel and the West Bank, but only nine indictments have been filed and only seven convictions handed down. Moreover, only eight of the 53 cases are still under investigation, with the other 45 all closed. The Palestinian community accuses Israel of failing to protect the churches and mosques from extremist Jews.

Israel’s Civil Administration is expected to advance plans soon for 2,000 new homes in West Bank settlements.

According to the World Council of Churches press release, the churches urged the 36th Session of UN Human Rights Council for action regarding the continued construction of the wall in the Cremisan Valley, dispossessing dozens of Palestinian Christian families in Cremisan for the benefit of illegal settlements.

According to Sabeel, Jerusalem: The Israeli government has called on the Israeli Supreme Court to approve plans to demolish the entire village of Khan Al Ahmar, a Palestinian Bedouin community, and forcibly transfer its residents. The village consists of more than 40 Palestinian families.

For the sixth consecutive day on Sunday,  Oct. 1, the Israeli army is imposing a general closure on a cluster of Palestinian villages in the central occupied West Bank. Human rights groups denounce the closure as an act of “collective punishment” on tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians. The closure comes after the shooting attack that left three Israeli security forces dead alongside the Palestinian assailant.

The Walled-Off Hotel was opened by the artist Banksy earlier this year in Bethlehem. The hotel stands just across from the Israeli separation wall in the Palestinian city of Bethlehem. In a ceremony in London, the hotel was granted the award of the leading culture destination as the best Art Hotel in the World.

On Monday, Oct. 2, the municipality of the illegally united Jerusalem distributed demolition notices for several Palestinian homes in the occupied East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya.  Since 1967, the government of Israel has directly engaged in the construction of 55,000 units for Israelis in Occupied East Jerusalem; in contrast with fewer than 600 units, in the same period of time, for Palestinians in East Jerusalem, the last of which were built 40 years ago.

There is fresh hope that the division within the Palestinian people that has lasted for a whole decade will come to an end. The unity government, including Fatah and Hamas, met on Oct. 3 in Gaza.

On the Ground in Palestine, Sept. 17, 2017

On the Ground in Palestine, Sept. 17, 2017

This information comes from Sabeel, Jerusalem, from their weekly prayer service.

At the beginning of this school year, over two thousand classrooms are lacking for Palestinian students in Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem. The Jerusalem municipality and state authorities have failed to provide the lacking classrooms as ordered by an Israeli High Court ruling five years ago. The Jerusalem municipality allocates most of its funds to its Jewish residents and deprives the Palestinian community of its basic needs.

On Wednesday, Sept. 6, the Supreme Court held a hearing regarding the secret procedures governing the work of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, despite the opposition of the Israeli state. The Supreme Court decision came following an appeal representing 108 petitioners. The petitioners demanded the establishment of legislation to regulate operations of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, its roles, authority, form of organization and management, and to require monitoring of its activities and facilities.

On Monday, Sept. 4, Palestinian security forces detained Issa Amro, a prominent human rights activist. Issa’s arrest came a day after he posted comments on his Facebook criticizing Palestinian forces for arresting a journalist. Issa was released from prison on Sunday, Sept. 10.

“The demolition of educational facilities before the start of the school year epitomizes the administrative cruelty and systematic harassment by the authorities designed to drive Palestinians from their land.”

Activists and residents of the village of Jubbet al-Dhib in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem rebuilt their school in one night. The school was destroyed by Israeli forces two weeks ago.
Israeli police evicted a Palestinian family from their East Jerusalem home. The Shamasnehs vacated the house, where they had lived for 53 years, after Israeli courts ruled in favor of the alleged heir of its original Jewish owners pre 1948. The case was brought by the Israel Land Fund, a right-wing non-governmental organization that advocates, for ideological reasons, the takeover of Palestinian land.

According to Haaretz, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told journalists in late August that plans for the implementation of a measure virtually unheard of since 1967 were months away from completion. These are plans for the eviction: Eviction and demolition of two whole West Bank Palestinian villages. Together, the two villages, Susiya, in the South Hebron Hills, and Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem, are home to hundreds of people, about half of them minors.  Demolishing these communities would constitute the forcible transfer of protected persons, a war crime under the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The following is one of a number of items in the B’Tselem newsletter. 

On Aug. 22, Israeli authorities demolished the school at the community of Jub a-Dib, southeast of Bethlehem, leaving 80 pupils without an educational facility. In Abu a-Nuwar, on Aug. 9, the Civil Administration confiscated solar panels donated by the international community, that provided electricity to the school and kindergarten. On Aug. 21, Civil Administration personnel accompanied by around fifty soldiers, police and border police officers arrived at the Badu al-Baba community which is located near al-‘Eizariyah, northeast of Jerusalem. They dismantled and confiscated a pre-fab that had been placed there around three weeks prior, to serve as a kindergarten for 25 local children aged 4-6, who do not have an alternative educational facility.

The demolition of educational facilities before the start of the school year epitomizes the administrative cruelty and systematic harassment by the authorities designed to drive Palestinians from their land.
On the Ground in Palestine – Sept. 1, 2017

On the Ground in Palestine – Sept. 1, 2017

Haaretz reports, “The start of the school year in a West Bank village was pushed back to Sunday (Aug. 27) after the Israeli Civil Administration on Tuesday confiscated and destroyed trailers that were supposed to serve as classrooms, along with other educational equipment. Authorities have confiscated and destroyed trailers used as classrooms in three other Palestinian communities in the last two weeks.”

According to the Jerusalem Post, “The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah is considering dismantling the Palestinian Authority (PA), if there is no political horizon to establish an independent Palestinian state, [said] Ahmad Majdalani, a confidant of PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

Last month, Israel revoked the citizenship of hundreds of Israeli Arab Bedouins and left them stateless. Over  500 citizens lost their citizen-status with a single keystroke and with no further explanation.        

Last week, Israeli authorities stormed the Silwan neighborhood of occupied East Jerusalem and demolished a Palestinian home for the second time. The same home, 60 square metres, had just been demolished on Aug. 15 by the Israeli army.

With the help of fellow Jerusalemites, the family rebuilt a temporary home made of tin sheets, which Israeli forces came to destroy on Aug. 22. The family and their friends are already working to rebuild the house for the third time.

A brand-new Palestinian primary school in Jubbet Al-Dhib was razed by Israel just as the new school year was set to begin. The six newly installed steel terrapin cabins were erected in the village of Jubbet Al Dhib so that local children do not have to walk for an hour to get to school. A total of 55 West Bank schools are currently threatened with demolition and “stop-work” orders.

From the Middle East Working Group

On the Ground in Palestine: Aug. 14, 2017

On the Ground in Palestine: Aug. 14, 2017

In recent months, the Israeli Ministry of the Interior has drastically increased its hostile policies towards East Jerusalem residents. Many Palestinians wait months to schedule an appointment and waste valuable resources on dealing with the added bureaucracy.

 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem continue to be the target of Israeli settler organizations. Jewish settlers are stepping up their attempts to acquire new property through deceitful and violent means. Also in Isawiya village in East Jerusalem, 200 families received demolition orders of their homes.

The United Church, Interfaith Relations, and Islamophobia – March 19 Global Gossip

The United Church, Interfaith Relations, and Islamophobia – March 19 Global Gossip

 

Gail Allan gave a presentation in her role as the Coordinator, Ecumenical, Interchurch, and Interfaith Relations for the United Church.

 

She made the following points:

  • there is a movement of inter-faith work that endeavours to present alternative visions which are vital to actively resisting current thinking
  • local interfaith relations are key
  • there are several documents that guide U.C in dialogue
  • g. Mending The World, which commits U.C to do all its work through a multi-faith lens, Bearing Faithful Witness (Christian/Jewish relations), That We May Know Each Other (Christian/Muslim relations), Honouring the Divine in Each Other (Christian/Hindu relations)
  • Several organizations were mentioned as points of connection, dialogue, and inter-faith justice work
  • Gail drew our attention to specific organizations that we might want to keep in touch with who hold events and that would be informative and a way of making contact with inter-faith groups, e.g. National Council of Canadian Muslims, the Noor Centre, Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI), Multi-faith Centre at U of T.
  • Inter-faith work can be seen as concentric circles: local – national – global

 

What Can We Do

During our discussion some of the following ideas were suggested:

  • keep aware of the U.C website “Take Action” section which guides members in contacting politicians regarding issues such as increasing refugee sponsorships and ending the safe third country agreement.
  • Participating in webinars such as the one recently held on Welcoming Refugees and Challenging Islamophobia
  • Be aware of the proposed inter-faith centre in the Honest Ed’s development.
  • Inviting a Muslim speaker from the National Council of Canadian Muslims to give us a kind of Islam 101
  • Importance of informing ourselves through interpersonal dialogue
  • Week by week small actions that we can ask members to do; a kind of weekly mission that we are sent off with at the conclusion of our services e.g. make a phone call, sign petition
  • Start our actions with an exploration of the document That We May Know Each Other
  • Draft letter regarding suspension of safe third country agreement motion modeling letters from other conferences
  • Advertising events we become aware of on our listserve, inviting others to join
  • Introducing ourselves to our Muslim neighbours, e.g the Ismaili worship group in our neighbourhood.

 

Jared agreed to help co-ordinate events and make sure communications were facilitated for TSP.  It was also noted that we should make an effort to reach those who are not on the list serve.

It was also noted that we need to keep the Board of TSP aware of any actions that are undertaken so they can address any concerns that arise.

 

Please note that this a summary of the discussion and apologies in advance for anything missed or mis-stated,

Betty Stone

 

Stories from the Occupied Territories – Jan 29 Global Gossip

Stories from the Occupied Territories – Jan 29 Global Gossip

Join the Middle East Working Group on January 29 in hearing an informal presentation from Zoe Godfrey-Davies, who spent three months living in the occupied Palestinian territories and working as a human rights observer as part of the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Accompaniment program in 2014 and 2015. Zoe will be sharing stories and photos from her experience.
There will also be light refreshments.