The church has identified the occupation as a major contributor to the injustice that underlies the violence of the region. What is the occupation? How does it personally affect the lives of Palestinians? The stories told here are examples of the real human cost of the occupation. Some are told through the eyes of United Church Ecumenical Accompaniers (EAs), who serve three-month terms in the Middle East to accompany Palestinians and Israelis in their non-violent actions and advocacy efforts to end the illegal occupation and support a just peace in the Middle East. For more stories from our EA's, visit the Voices of Accompaniment blog.

We Are All One Family

The Rev. Lilian Mattar Patey is a United Church minister specializing in interim ministry. Born in Haifa, Palestine, she relates her family's story, including the family's displacement first from Haifa and then from their temporary home in Jerusalem, and her father's death during the 1967 war. She also speaks about the GC41 resolution on Israel/Palestine and her hopes for how it may contribute to a just and lasting peace in the region.

The Human Costs of Settler Violence

An excerpt from returned EA Jan McIntyre's blog. Jan McIntyre is from southern rural Manitoba and served as an EA in the South Hebron Hills in fall 2011 and Jerusalem in spring 2013.

On the afternoon of Saturday, Feb. 23, things got even worse. At about 1:00 pm, 26-year-old Hilmi Hassan left his wife and young daughter at home as he set out to drive his sister home. While en route, he received a phone call saying that there was a house fire in the village. He dropped off his sister at her home and headed towards the site of the fire to offer help, picking up a friend along the way. When they arrived, they found that the house was not on fire. Hilmi and his friend got out of the car and found evidence of a previous fire, with charred remains and broken glass outside the house. Hilmi was eager to get home. However, just as he was about to get back in his car, his cell phone rang. Standing beside his car, Hilmi answered his phone. He heard something, and looked up to see approximately 20 soldiers and settlers running towards them. The settler's faces were masked. One or more of the settlers started shooting, and Hilmi was shot in the abdomen. An elderly woman running from the scene fell and broke her leg, and a young boy was shot just below the eye with a rubber bullet. (Hilmi Hassan verbal report to EAPPI, March 12, 2013; and Ma'an news media report)

Read the full post on Jan's blog, A Mosaic for Peace.

A Tale of Two Tailors

An excerpt from returned EA Dianne Baker's blog. Dianne Baker is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, and served as an EA in the South Hebron Hills in summer 2011.

Both men in the same profession, of the same faith, same ethnicity and the same birthplace. Two very different sets of 'rights' and degrees of freedom of movement and rights to work. They are both, of course, affected by the same economic challenges in their business: same cost of cloth, of rent, of electricity, of hired labor. But their fates will be entirely different based on decisions within the state of Israel. Tomorrow, Maurice could lose his work permit, and the travel permit to enter Jerusalem. Then more than 4 decades of shared business, shared cups of tea and conversation may come to end, with a Separation Wall between them.

Read the full post on Dianne's blog, shalompaxsalaam.

The Story of Rula: My Morning Commute to Work

An excerpt from Kairos Palestine's resource Palestinian Christians – Ongoing forcible displacement and dispossession…until when?

I used to leave from my home at 7.15 in the morning and if I was lucky, I would be at the office after 9.00, 9.20 or even 9.50 o'clock. But sometimes I was there at ten. And then I had to stay longer in the office to make my hours which were left from the morning. And also it was never easy for me to go back to Bethlehem; I was thinking how I could manage it in the best way. Buses, often the only possible transportation for Palestinians with permits, are stopped at flying checkpoints [temporary checkpoints] on their way to Jerusalem. I remember one day we had three flying checkpoints until we got to the old city of Jerusalem. They stopped us and checked our IDs, and every time it took between twenty minutes and half an hour.

For the rest of Rula's story, see page 16 of the Kairos Palestine resource

Data sources: The Guardian (London) and the United Nations