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Frome friend working for peace in Palestine

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Ali with local children at a recent olive harvesting trip in the West Bank

FROME woman, Ali Morgan begins a role as a human rights observer in the West Bank (occupied Palestinian territories) in November.  

Ali will be serving in Bethlehem as part of an international programme, providing protective presence and reporting on human rights abuses in the Palestinian territories, which have been occupied by Israel since 1967.

Ali, who is a Quaker and a member of Frome Friends of Palestine, is taking a break from her usual work as a rural development specialist to serve for three months with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

This will be Ali’s fourth trip to the region. She first visited Israel in 1983 as an agriculture graduate hosted by a Tel Aviv research institute. Since then she has been twice to the West Bank to accompany Palestinian farmers during the olive harvest.

Ali said, “My first visit, 30 years ago, was transformational. It opened my eyes to realise what a one-sided view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict I had absorbed from my western upbringing. Until then, I had given little thought to the Palestinian viewpoint. During recent visits to the West Bank, I have been shocked to witness how the Israeli occupation routinely contravenes International Humanitarian Law, and this led me to want to serve with EAPPI.”

EAPPI has worked across the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 2002.  The people of Bethlehem suffer great hardship. They have been cut off from jobs in East Jerusalem, and from much of their agricultural land, by the Israeli-built Separation Barrier.

Ali’s role as an Ecumenical Accompanier (EA) is likely to involve monitoring the treatment of Palestinians who are forced to queue for hours at the checkpoint on their way to work in East Jerusalem. She will also be working in the surrounding villages where Palestinians are being forcibly displaced by Israeli settlement-building, and their land swallowed up by the route of the barrier.

Bethlehem also has a large refugee camp, still home to families thrown out of their homes in 1948 when the state of Israel was created. Ali will be working closely with Israeli human rights organisations who oppose the occupation, as well as with Palestinians.

Ali said, “The occupation is very damaging to Israelis and to Jews worldwide, as well as Palestinians. It perpetuates the cycle of fear and violence and is anathema to the true values of Judaism.

“When I return in February 2014, my role as an EA will continue, speaking about what I have witnessed and campaigning for an end to the occupation.”

You can follow Ali’s blog from the West Bank on