‘Why would you come here to get yourself killed?’
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‘Why would you come here to get yourself killed?’

Editor’s note: An Israeli group called “Breaking the Silence” is currently taking 24 novelists through the West Bank as research for an upcoming book of essays marking the 50th anniversary of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. American writer Ayelet Walman, head of the project, says the book will not analyze the conflict but simply bear witness to these questions: What does occupation look like? What does it feel like to live under occupation? The collection will be published in 2017 by HarperCollins.

One of Christian Courier’s staff members, Ineke Medcalf, has travelled to the West Bank four times in the past three years. The following narrative does the same thing: it bears witness to what life is like in the West Bank today; it is, as Walman calls it, “Occupation 101.”

In the West Bank: A fight for survival
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In the West Bank: A fight for survival

I recently spent three months in the West Bank as an Ecumenical Accompanier (EA) (see CC “A glimmer of hope,” January 26, 2015). My task was to witness life under occupation, record human rights abuses and provide protective presence in vulnerable communities. EAs also engage with both Israelis and Palestinians in seeking a just peace and an end to the occupation.

A glimmer of hope:
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A glimmer of hope:

On January 7, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon confirmed that the International Criminal Court (ICC) would be welcoming a new member soon – Palestine. On April 1, 2015, Palestinians will be able to pursue, and be subject to, war-crime charges.
Membership in the ICC has been perceived, more importantly, as a stepping stone to acquiring statehood for Palestine, a bid the UN Security Council has so far rejected.
But behind this political maneuvering are the regular people who live there – in Jerusalem, in Ramallah, in the West Bank. Many people, and not always the ones you might expect, are working for reconciliation between Israel and Palestine, as Christian Courier’s staff member found as she journeyed through these conflict-ridden lands.
Here are the stories of the people she met.
–Angela Reitsma Bick, Editor