“Eyewitness” – a talk by Belinda Pyke at SWVG General Meeting, 1 June 2020 (by Zoom)
Belinda Pyke is a member of a local group in Leamington Spa called “Justice for Palestinians”. She travelled to Palestine in support of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI), set up by the World Council of Churches in 2002. Observers visit from many different countries to monitor human rights, to provide a protective presence at checkpoints and other sites, and to support local Palestinian and Israeli peace groups.
She gave us an outline of life from the perspective of Bedouin Palestinians that she met on the occupied West Bank. With the growth of Israeli settlements around them, they have less land available for grazing and they are not allowed to build houses. The land is arid but they have no mains water or electricity, their solar panels get confiscated. It is very difficult for them to access water and it may be impossible for Palestinians to build new wells.
EU countries fund some facilities but many of these get demolished. There is a kindergarten and primary school but the secondary school was demolished by the Israelis. Very few people have permission to work in the settlements. Palestinians need permits to enter Israel, rules change frequently, many checkpoints, and permits may not be accepted.
The Geneva Convention is the relevant international law, in particular Article 49(6) Settlements and Article 53 Demolition.
What can you do?
- Help end trade with illegal settlements (lobby your supermarket)
- Urge UK government to apply sanctions if Israel goes ahead with annexation
- Follow the work of Israeli human rights groups; and Palestinian groups
- Visit Israel and occupied Palestine
- Stay updated by signing up to monthly Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme email updates and reading the latest stories by Ecumenical Accompaniers.
See Belinda’s slides to accompany her talk.
You may be interested in Belinda’s blogs from when she was there.
More on EAPPI website about EAPPI, Ecumenical Accompaniers and a 12 minute video