This Eastertide has seen a resumption of the shelling of the Bethlehem area and in this wave of bombardment, the Israeli Defense Force is using stronger types of shells, targeting the support columns and beams of civilian homes - a profound violation of human rights. Because so many homes in this hilly terrain are built right into the terraced hillside, the support columns are often open to view. Shelling the columns causes the collapse of a home. Now more than 160 homes have been shelled and families continue to be displaced. 215 families have now been directly affected from the Israeli shelling since September, 2000. The distinct impression is being given that through bombing or demolition, you have no home to live in, therefore, you will leave. If you survive with your house, you will still be caged in by Israeli roadblocks, and not be allowed to get to your place of employment and thus have no money to feed your family. This is the experience of both Christian and Muslim Palestinians whose land the democratic government of Israel lusts after. Yet, during this liturgical season, Holy Mother church gives us Jesus' message of peace to reflect upon. And in his homeland, it is Israeli women who are moving forward in the direction of peace. Here in Jerusalem, the site of his encouraging message of peace to his disciples, Israeli women have organized to monitor the Israeli Defense Force roadblocks, intervening in cases of urgent medical relief and reporting verbal or physical violence towards Palestinians. They call themselves the Roadblock Watch. Another group of Israeli women who are also recruiting new members, are defending Palestinian civilians against the policy of home demolitions by the Israeli Government - another violation of human rights. These Israeli women actually stay in the Palestinian homes that are slated for demolition. They spend the night with the families and will not remain silent nor let the Palestinians be alone to face the brutal affects of Israeli occupation. None of us can make peace happen, but we can keep peace alive and let it take root in our own hearts on both sides of this conflict.
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