Crowd gathered by a wall.

A crowded Checkpoint 300 in Bethlehem, pictured after five minutes of closed passage.


The WCC Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel deployed a new group of accompaniers who witnessed, for example, the demolition of Jubbet ad-Dhib school in Bethlehem on 7 May, but who were unable to be near because 50 Israeli soldiers sealed off the area.

After the soldiers left, the local community, children, teachers, and the press assembled to inspect the damage, reported an ecumenical accompanier. In the days after the demolition, 25 children had to attend classes in small groups under the olive trees with no furniture or educational facilities.

Also in Bethlehem, a Palestinian man carried out a forced self-demolish on his restaurant building in the village of Al Walaja. But Israeli soldiers arrived suddenly on 4 May, and finished the demolition the man had started. The man had to pay NIS 40,000 ($11,700) for the bulldozer and machinery, and an additional NIS 30,000 ($8,800) for costs incurred by the Israeli military.

In Jerusalem, just before the Friday prayer on 19 May, settlers were harassing Palestinians on their way to Al-Aqsa Mosque, another ecumenical accompanier reported. The settlers were aggressive, they hit people, and smashed a car window,” reported the accompanier. The Palestinians asked Israeli soldiers for help, but to no avail.”

Many other incidents—including crop destruction, violence, and intimidation were reported. Yet the accompaniers also reported that their presences gives people hope.

Person in vest reading 'EAPPI' sitting on a field looking on as sheep graze.

An ecumenical accompanier joins Palestinian communities for shepherding in the Jordan Valley in May 2023.


You give me power,” said one Palestinian man in Bethlehem on 14 May. Another Palestinian man in Jerusalems Old City, said to an accompanier: You are doing important work.”

The accompaniers, from around the world, are providing a protective presence to Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. The programme allows them as well to live and journey side-by side-with the Palestinian people in their daily struggles, challenges, and hopes.