March 5th, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 5, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers, March 5, 2014

Pray for the community of Guayabo, Colombia, which successfully resisted an eviction in November, but still fears the intervention of illegal outside armed actors.

Erik Yesid Payares, 32, a leader for the community of Guayabo, asked CPT’s Colombia team to publicize the following request this week:  â€śIt is important to us that this problem is made known.  We are humble people of peace and small farmers.  We live in a critical situation under threat.  We ask that you help us and not abandon us.”’


Epixel* for 9 March 2014

if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,
then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.
Isaiah 58:10

*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from
the upcoming Sunday's Revised Common Lectionary readings.

March 4th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): February ends with arrests of children in the Old City

On the evening of 28 February 2014, soldiers arrested eight Palestinians on Shalala Street—six of them appeared to be under sixteen, and two were clearly younger than twelve.  Soldiers took the boys into the military base at Bab el Baladiya at the entrance to the Old City and after approximately an hour, the soldiers took all them away in military jeeps.

The arrests bring the total of child arrests and detentions documented by internationals working in Hebron during the month of February to eighteen. This number by no means reflects the total number of arrests and detentions of Palestinian children by Israeli forces in the city.

Some of the detentions witnessed have been relatively brief, including incidents where soldiers took children from residential streets or the market, walked them some distance, compared them to photographs or interrogated them in the street, then released them. Sometimes soldiers take children into military bases or to military police stations and question them there. Sometimes they arrest them in their homes and sometimes they hold them overnight.


March 3rd

IRAQI KURDISTAN REFLECTION: Voices of small people—the story of Dana Jamal

On 12 October 2012, in the Sharazur District of Iraqi Kurdistan, twelfth grade student Dana Jamal decided to skip his sports class to study for his upcoming exam. In earlier years, the school planners decided that schoolyard trees were not necessary, leaving students to seek the shade of an eight-foot high stone wall. The government authorities decided not to listen to voices calling for repairs to dilapidated school buildings. Dana paid the price when the boundary wall fell on him as he intently read his book.

One of Dana Jamal's fellow students tells
about the day he died

In 1988, Saddam Hussein ordered many new construction projects in the Kurdish region, including Halabjai Taza, or “New Halabja” to prove to the international community that the reports of chemical bombing were greatly exaggerated. Now, the school buildings that he had ordered to be built in a hurry are cracking and falling apart.

For the past year, Dana’s family has pleaded for someone to take some responsibility for the tragic accident. However, everyone refuses to do so and blames others.  The Ministry of Education is currently appealing the court’s decision that holds it responsible.

February 28th

SOUTH HEBRON HILLS: The precarious situation of Bir al-'Eid and an invitation to advocacy for villages of Masafer Yatta/Firing Zone 918

Sample Letter of Concern about Firing Zone 918

The following letter was drafted by Madison Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends to Representative Pocan.

Dear Representative Pocan,

An Israeli Civil Administration helicopter hovers above agricultural land adjacent to the
above agricultural land adjacent to the Al Fakheit School in Firing Zone 918, forcing a  
villager to move with his donkey. Helicopters routinely hover over the school and
surrounding agricultural land, disrupting classes for children and grazing for animals.

We are writing to you on behalf of the Madison Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (the Madison Quakers).  We are the local committee that works with the American Friends Service Committee to promote peace with justice.  The belief of the worth of every person is one of the basic principles of the Friends.
 We ask that you submit a request to the State Department for a formal inquiry as to the legality of the forced demolitions in Firing Zone 918.
We believe the Israeli establishment of Firing Zone 918 on a piece of land where 1000
Palestinians currently live is immoral, and we believe it is illegal under international law.  
The forced removal of people from their homes and livelihoods in order to create a live ammunition military training space is in violation of the Friends’ core principle of promoting peace.  
We understand the Palestinians’ removal would be in violation international law.

February 27th

Prayers for Peacemakers February 27, 2014

Prayers for Peacemakers February 27, 2014

Give thanks for the participants currently involved with the Iraqi Kurdistan training, and ask the Holy Spirit to fill both the trainers and trainees undergoing the training.


Epixel* for 2 March 2014

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this
as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

2 Peter 1:19

*epixel: a snapshot-epistle to the churches related to and appearing with a text from the upcoming Sunday's RevisedCommon Lectionary readings.

February 26th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Hebronites mark twentieth anniversary of Ibrahimi Mosque massacre

During the month of February, Palestinians in Hebron commemorated the twentieth anniversary of two tragic events that continue to haunt lives and curtail freedoms in the city:  the closing of Shuhada Street, the massacre of twenty-nine Palestinians in the Ibrahimi Mosque, and dozens more killed by Israeli soldiers the week after the massacre.

Israeli soldiers, Border Police, and civilian police used
teargas and stun grenades during Open Shuhada Street
march 21 February in Hebron.


Early on the morning of 25 February, during the month of Ramadan 1994, U.S.-born Israeli physician Baruch Goldstein walked into the Ibrahimi mosque in Hebron armed with a rifle. Hundreds were inside the mosque in prayer at the time.  Goldstein opened fire on the kneeling men and boys at prayer, reloading at least once.  By the time worshipers stopped him,  twenty-nine had been killed and more than 100 injured.

Since the Goldstein Massacre, Israeli Occupation forces in Hebron have systematically restricted Palestinian movement in the city.  Shortly after the massacre, the Israeli Civil Administration banned Palestinian vehicles from Shuhada Street, a once-vibrant residential and commercial street that served as a hub and gathering place for the Old City of Hebron. During the second Intifada in 2000, Israel completely closed off Shuhada Street to Palestinians. Owners of shops and homes on the street could no longer use their doors, and the military closed more than 300 shops and warehouses. Families living in homes that did not have alternative access, such as over a roof or through another building, had to abandon them. Meanwhile settlements in Hebron continue to expand.  Currently settlers are in the process of trying to take an additional five buildings near the Ibrahimi Mosque and Hebron residents fear their goal is to cut off the Mosque completely to Palestinians.

February 25th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Schoolchildren exposed to teargas seven of the last eight days

Israeli soldiers have shot teargas and sound grenades at children who cross checkpoints 29 and 209 on their way to school in the morning on seven of the last eight school days.

International observers and human rights workers in Hebron have witnessed Israeli soldiers repeatedly firing grenades and sound bombs into the streets near these checkpoints while children are walking to school.  The children attend several schools located both in the Old City and in the area of Hebron designated as H2, on the other side of the checkpoints, and include preschool students as young as four.  Depending on where they live and which school they attend, children must cross these checkpoints in both directions to reach schools both inside the old city and in H2.

Because the Israeli military does not allow buses that transport younger children to preschool and kindergarten classes in H2 to cross the checkpoints, very young children living in the Old City must walk through these checkpoint areas in order to reach their school buses.

          Schoolgirls cross checkpoint 29 as soldiers prepare to fire teargas 25 February 2014          

February 24th

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Settlers prevent renovation of shop near Ibrahimi mosque

On 23 February 2014 twenty Israeli settlers, led by Baruch Marzel, sat down at two tables covered in food on the side of the Sahleh street, near the Ibrahimi mosque, impeding construction and renovation work on a new shop.  Baruch Marzel is the leader of the far right-oriented Jewish National Front party.  He claims he was the “right hand man” of assassinated Rabbi Meir Kahane, acting as spokesman for the American rabbi’s Kach organization for ten years, until it was outlawed in Israel and the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

The Hebron Rehabilitation Committee has a working permit for the restoration of the shop.  The settlers attempted to stop the workers from continuing these renovations.  Twenty members of various Israeli forces (border police, civilian police and soldiers) were present to protect the settlers.

One CPTers talked to the owner of the shop, and he said “ We have permit to work, and the settlers came and claim it is not a working area.”

February 21st

AL-KHALIL (HEBRON): Stop and frisk in the Old City; spring planting in Wadi al-Hussein

Saturday 15 February Old City, Al Khalil

Israeli soldiers entered a residential Palestinian neighborhood in the Old City of Hebron, established a flying checkpoint, and began randomly stopping Palestinian drivers.  The soldiers slowed traffic on the narrow streets of the neighborhood, searched cars, trunks, engines and checked the IDs of drivers and passengers.

Since the early l990s, Israel has restricted the movement of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories.  Methods of restriction include permanent and "flying" checkpoints, turnstiles, restricted roads, and road closures. 

Under Article 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and in Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Israel, as an occupying power, is required to respect civilians’ freedom of movement. 

February 20th

IRAQI KURDISTAN: Great joy in a small community—the ordination of an archbishop in Kirkuk, Iraqi Kurdistan

On 24 January in Kirkuk, CPT Iraqi Kurdistan participated in the new Archbishop’s ordination ceremony.  Yousif Thomas Mirkis OP began to shepherd a community of about 10, 000 Chaldean Christians from the Kirkuk and Suleimaniyah region.  Kirkuk is a point on the Iraqi map to which Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens all claim a right.  It is also a target of militant groups.  The small community of Christians in Iraq is especially vulnerable to this political and social instability.

Despite all these difficulties, Christians in Iraq find many opportunities to celebrate and show their joy.  One of these moments was the ordination ceremony of the new archbishop.  Inside the crowded cathedral, nobody thought about the hundreds of soldiers surrounding the building in order to provide safety.  It was a time for joy, singing, and helhele (Middle Eastern women’s celebratory trilling.)

In his speech, Archbishop Yousif Thomas emphasized the love that should be the sign of Christians.  In Kirkuk, an eternal fire has burned for 5000 years, giving light and heat that is like Christian love.  When Jesus went to the cross, he started the fire of love.  â€śHe is our fuel, our fire, hand to hand, back to back we can burst out into flames and make everyone around us, Muslims, Jewish and everyone feel our loving fire,” said the new archbishop.  He also mentioned the role that he would like to play in the church.  He wanted to lead the Christians into keeping that fire of love.  “This fire has become like a candle with a shaky fire, almost going out, but with team work we can do it and be like the Eternal flame.”