To mark the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel (WWPPI), Palestinian Christians will celebrate holy communion on Friday, June 1 in the orchard of the historic Cremisan monastery near Bethlehem. It is an area where Israel plans to confiscate land in order to extend its illegal separation barrier outside Jerusalem.
The WWPPI is an initiative of the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches (WCC). It will take place from May 28-June 3.
The week for peace aims to encourage Christians and people of faith to make a common witness by participating in worship, educational events and acts of advocacy to support the end of the Israeli occupation and a just peace for both Palestinians and Israelis.
As another example of activities being planned for the week, members of numerous faith traditions will rally in central Manila, Philippines, and march together to demand an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories.
Christian communities around the world will also join in offering special prayers for a just peace in Palestine and Israel, written for the occasion by the heads of churches in Jerusalem.
The focus for the week for peace this year is “displacement and dispossession,” given the recent escalation in the incidents of forcible relocation of Palestinians and confiscation of Palestinian land by the Israeli military.
U.N. reports have shown that almost 1,100 Palestinians, over half of them children, were displaced due to home demolitions by Israeli forces in 2011, over 80% more than in 2010. The Israeli forces destroyed 622 structures owned by Palestinians. Additionally, the number of rainwater cisterns and pools demolished doubled last year.
The UN reports make it clear that “forced displacement of Palestinian families and the destruction of civilian homes and other property by Israeli forces in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have a serious humanitarian impact.”
Yusef Daher, executive secretary of the Jerusalem Inter-Church Center and a lead organizer for WWPPI events in Palestine, witnesses the impact of these policies on a daily basis.
“Palestinians have known displacement since 1948, when a homeland was created for others on our own land. Ever since, Palestinians have been on the move, as a result of Israeli policies and military force,” says Daher.
“Too many Palestinians today, including thousands jailed for resisting the occupation, and millions living in refugee camps or in exile abroad, have been displaced from their original homes,” he adds.
The activities planned for the week attempt to demonstrate a strong show of commitment to peaceful actions against the continuing occupation. Local church groups and peace activists will advocate with government officials and community leaders by organizing activities focusing on the urgent need to end the ongoing injustices taking place in the region.
Member churches, religious and community organizations and people of faith have been invited to join with peacemakers in the region and around the world by participating in the events of the week.