EAPPI News June-August 2012
GROUP 44 IN ACTION
The current Group of EAs range in age from their early 20s to 60s and come from Ecuador, South Africa, Finland, Norway, Switzerland, the UK, Ireland, the Philippines, Sweden, Colombia, Austria, Canada and Uruguay. The group comes from a range of professional backgrounds including church ministry, TV acting, nursing and journalism. So far, Group 44 has already documented numerous human rights abuses including ‘price tag’ graffiti, settler violence and the arrests of children. They have also been exposed to a range of different points of view from Israelis including peace activists, residents who face rocket fire from Gaza, and West Bank settlers.
To hear more about what Group 44 is up to, check out this selection of their latest blogs at: http://eappi.org/en/news/ea-reports.html
FOCUS ON: Yanoun
Villagers in Yanoun now have a new UK-funded computer lab and audio-visual room to learn new skills and watch films. The British Consul-General in Jerusalem, Sir Vincent Fean, village head Rashed Murrar and EAPPI opened the new facility on the 17 July.
The opening of the computer lab gave a much-needed boost to the tiny village at a time when it is suffering from an upsurge in violence from the neighbouring settlement of Itamar. In an incident documented by the EAPPI Yanoun team on 7 July, a settler attack on farmers ended with five Palestinians being injured, their sheep stabbed and fields set alight.
EAPPI’s South Hebron Hills team has been closely monitoring the situation in the village of Susiya, which has Israeli demolition orders on 50 buildings. This means 160 people face losing their homes, and UK, German, Australian and Polish-funded aid projects are also at risk. EAs accompanied the villagers and provided support as it appeared the demolition orders were about to be carried out, and in Geneva EAPPI Programme Associate Anne Marie Vuignier addressed the UN Human Rights Council about the village’s plight. Many former EAs responded to an Urgent Action Appeal to support Susiya’s fight for surival. A legal challenge by Rabbis for Human Rights has bought the village more time, but international pressure is still needed to ensure the demolitions aren’t carried out in the future.
Firing Zone 918
EAs have visited their countries’ diplomatic representatives to highlight their concerns about Firing Zone 918. This plan to establish an Israeli army training area in the South Hebron Hills involves the mass demolition of eight Palestinian villages and the displacement of up to 1, 500 residents. EAPPI is closely monitoring this case, which is currently before the Israeli High Court of Justice.
CHURCH NEWS: Church of England endorses EAPPI
The scope and witness of the EAPPI program in the UK and Ireland is being strengthened following a key vote in the Church of England synod on 9 July. The synod broadly rejected a campaign led by the Board of Deputies of British Jews aimed at discrediting the program, instead voting 201 to 54 to strengthen links with EAPPI. We would like to thank the church leaders and Israeli peace groups who sent messages of support.
US Presbyterians' knife-edge vote against divestment
On 5 July, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA narrowly rejected a resolution requiring the church to divest its $20 million of investments in Caterpillar, Motorola, and Hewlett-Packard over the ties of these companies to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The vote at the PCUSA's General Assembly in Pittsburgh was 333-to-331.
However, the PCUSA, like the Methodists, has voted overwhelmingly to boycott goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
EAPPI ADVOCACY: Media briefing on settler violence
On 11 July, EAPPI joined forces with several UN agencies, the Israeli NGO B'tselem and Palestinian human rights group al-Haq to brief international correspondents in Ramallah about increasing levels of settler violence and a lack of accountability. The briefing on the latest facts and figures was followed by a press trip to the village of Beit Illu to meet farmers whose olive groves have been destroyed. The event was covered by media outlets around the world including AFP, the ABC and Haaretz.
EAs press European Union on human rights
From 4-8 June, a group of 8 former EAs made an advocacy trip to Brussels to urge the European Union to promote human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. Their visit to Brussels included more than 50 meetings with members of the European Parliament, as well as diplomats and other senior officials. The EAs focused on the worsening situation in Area C of the West Bank, and called on the EU to include safeguards in all agreements with Israel to ensure that illegal Israeli settlements do not receive any advantages, and also called the EU not to endorse any new agreements or protocols with Israel until Israel makes tangible progress towards respecting its obligations under international law.
EAPPI briefs UN Committee and Special Rapporteur
On 12 July, EAPPI’s Advocacy Officer Nader Hanna travelled to Amman to brief the UN Special Committee on Israeli Practices and the Special Rapporteur on the oPT about settler violence and forced displacement of Palestinians in Area C.
In a statement issued after the briefings from a range of NGOs, the Special Committee delivered a strong message reflecting many of EAPPI’s concerns: “The mass imprisonment of Palestinians; the routine demolition of homes and the displacement of Palestinians; the widespread violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians; and the blockade and resultant reliance on illegal smuggling to survive; these practices amount to a strategy to either force the Palestinian people off their land or so severely marginalize them as to establish and maintain a system of permanent oppression.”
EAPPI 10th Anniversary
With about 1000 EAs sent to Israel and Palestine since 2002, the program is about to mark its 10th anniversary on 4 November. It is a time to thank EAs past and present for their important contribution in accompanying Palestinian schoolchildren, farmers and other vulnerable communities, but also to reflect on the changing nature of the occupation and the work that needs to be done in the future.
In Jerusalem, an ecumenical service is planned to mark the occasion, as well as a photo exhibition and reception.
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