EAPPI: Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel
Two of our members attended a meeting in Budleigh Salterton on the work of EAPPI. This is their report:
THE WORK OF THE EAPPI, organised by East Devon Justice for Palestine
NOTES FROM A TALK HELD AT TEMPLE STREET METHODIST CHURCH BUDLEIGH SALTERTON ON MARCH 8th 7.30PM
SPEAKER Liz Brookes Hocking a Quaker from Crediton
We attended this meeting feeling rather tired having had a busy day. However we soon became engaged when Liz began talking about the work of the EAPPI in Israel and the Occupied Territories. It is a truly remarkable organisation! The EAPPI (The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel) was set up in 2002 after the 2nd Intifada by The World Council of Churches following a plea by churches in Jerusalem for a protective presence. It supports both Palestinian and Israeli peace activists and is an international organisation run in the UK by the Quakers, see www.quaker.org.uk/eappi
Ecumenical Accompaniers are selected from any faith and secular background from all over the world, to witness and accompany vulnerable communities and individuals and support their legal and human rights acting as neutral observers. There are 3 aspects to their work
1) WITNESS - by living amongst the people concerned and participating in local activities
2) ENGAGE - by monitoring human rights abuses through eye witness accounts
3) CHANGE - by giving media interviews and engaging with local and international representatives
Liz told us she had embarked upon a month’s training beforehand and then set off in 2016 on a 3 month stay in Hebron. Alongside her many tasks she supported a Palestinian farmer and his family to care for his sheep and crops while sustaining continued intimidation from nearby settlers. There are frequent clashes in this area and it is close to an Israeli firing range. There is a complicated system of land management but basically the Israeli army controls most of the area and the aim seems to be to make every day life as complicated as possible for the Palestinians, but where else would they go? The farmer believes he has the right to remain on his land and be a farmer, but there are increasing numbers of forced evictions followed by demolitions – as we in Amnesty are all too aware.
Liz observed and photographed the destruction of a carefully made water channel and covered reservoir– vital for the villagers and their animals but it was irretrievably damaged as a result of it being bull-dozed by the Israeli army. Apparently schools and Palestinian homes are also targets for an increasing number of demolitions. All these actions contravene international law and the Geneva Convention. She also showed us a sad film where Israeli peace activists filmed an elderly Palestinian man revisiting his old home in Susya, paying for a ticket to do so, and then being driven off by some soldiers in a land rover, revving their engines at the elderly man and the film crew. One can understand how tempers could erupt in such a situation.
Sadly, since Liz’s visit, the situation has worsened. She felt it was really important to lobby the Israeli government – and ours!
Sheila and John Eschle