The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


They keep watch

Accompaniers walk with those who seek peace, not walls, in Palestine

Tammie Danielsen spent a cold 2012 winter in Hebron, in the occupied West Bank, keeping watch. She is the 36th ELCA member to serve the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, which began 10 years ago.

Danielsen, a member of Gethsemane Lutheran Church, Austin, Texas, and three other volunteers kept watch at checkpoints Palestinians must pass through to get to work or their neighborhoods that are near Israeli settlements — or even to pray at Hebron's Mosque of Abraham.

On a regular basis, Danielsen and the other volunteers walked with the children, who show identity cards before passing through X-ray security at checkpoints on their way to and from school.

ELCA member Tammie Danielsen leads
ELCA member Tammie Danielsen leads students from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago on a tour of Hebron. Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel volunteers like Danielsen help with community safety by walking children to school, accompanying people through Israeli checkpoints and more.

As EAPPI volunteers, they wore vests printed with the image of the dove of peace and the cross transcending barriers.

After one "checkpoint watch," Danielsen said, "I wondered how humiliated these workers must feel, going through this process day after day. ... And yet they are somehow able to keep their dignity and their faith."

Hebron has been divided into two zones since 1997. The area under the control of the civilian Palestinian Authority is populated by some 120,000 Palestinians. The zone under Israeli military control is home to 30,000 Palestinians and 500 Israeli settlers.

Some 1,830 shops in the city center have closed due to restrictions on Palestinian movement, curfews and the sealing off of entire streets by the Israeli military. Many Palestinians have moved away, and the area has become a ghost town.

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