Human rights monitors safely home from Palestine
Two Irish nationals in Palestine to monitor the human rights situation on behalf of British and Irish churches and NGOs have been evacuated.
Danger in Israel and Palestine continues to escalate after attacks on Israel by Hamas left 1,300 dead, with more than 1,400 killed in Gaza since Israel launched retaliatory air strikes.
In an unprecedented move, the pair, from Ireland and Glasgow, were driven from Jerusalem across the border to Amman where they caught a flight home, arriving on Saturday.
However, the whole EAPPI family share concern for their seven staff still on the ground in Israel and Palestine, as well as desperate sadness for those caught up in the conflict. They hope to return to their work soon.
One of the ecumenical accompaniers (EAs), based in Bethlehem for the past six weeks, said that it was heartbreaking to no longer be able to walk alongside people who had asked for a protective presence.
“All of these people have asked for an international presence that provides a level of protection in the face of persistent harassment and violence," she said.
The Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Israel and Palestine (EAPPI) brings international volunteers to the West Bank to witness life under occupation.
In the UK and Ireland EAPPI is coordinated by Quakers in Britain on behalf of 16 churches and NGOs.
EAPPI has been running since 2002 and has seen 1,500 volunteers from 22 countries act as human rights monitors, engaging with Palestinians and Israelis pursuing a just peace.
The only other time volunteers, who serve for three months, have been repatriated is during the coronavirus pandemic.
EAPPI volunteers are ordinary people aged 25 to 70 who share a deep dedication to human rights. The programme uses the internationally recognised model of 'accompaniment' as the framework for its work.