|Bishop Academy's visit to al-Walaja|
On the 2nd of December 2009, seventeen members of ELCA Bishop Academy visited the Al-Walaja community in order to show their support to the Palestinian struggle against Israel’s occupation policy. Together with EEC’s staff members, they started their advocacy visit at Al-Walaja village council, where they were welcomed by its vice-chairman, Mr. Owny El-Atrash. In front of the captivated audience, the chairman explained briefly Al-Walaja history and how the village has seen its land surface area considerably reduced. Indeed, through the years, Israeli authorities confiscated two third of the original village land in order to allow the establishment of the surrounding settlements. Finally, the coming construction of the Apartheid Wall around Al-Walaja will soon transform the whole community in a big prison.
Then, it was the turn of Othman Abu Sharekh, Director of the Agriculture Department in the Bethlehem area, to welcome the visitors and introduce them to the various obstacles that the local farmers face when they want to cultivate their land. Finally, it’s Rev. Peter Johnson who took the floor in order to thank the council and EEC for having enabled the visit. He also expressed his support to the Al-Walaja community and the will of the Bishop Academy to work for justice and peace in the Holy Land. At the end, the group moved to a threatened land in order to plant fifty olive trees as a symbol of their support to the local farmers and, after having visited the oldest olive tree of the village, the bishops went praying together for peace in front of the separation wall. EEC expresses its greatest thanks to the ELCA Bishop Academy for their visit and for the support they showed to the local farmers.