Monday, March 17

Friends, Thursday night a Palestinian from East Jerusalem entered a yeshiva in the Western (Jewish) part of Jerusalem. People were killed as he opened fire on students that were studying. Speculating, it seems that this attack was carried out in response to the deaths of Palestinians as a result of the Israeli military's operation in Gaza.
That same night, in response to the attack, the Israeli military entered Bethlehem, which under agreements with Israel is supposed to be sovereign Palestinian territory. It seems that the military was setting off bombs, and there was lots of gunfire, we believe from the Israeli military.
Earlier this week, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, agreed to resume negotiations with Israel towards achieving a lasting peace here. He had called them off in response to what he viewed as Israel's disproportional military response in Gaza to the firing of rockets from parts of Gaza.
Wednesday, Israeli 'border police' were in Bethlehem and killed 4 men. The Israeli military claims the 4 were "terrorists". People in Bethlehem agree that some of them were radical militants, but not all. Regardless, using the legal system to bring to justice those accused of the killings would seem to be a more appropriate and less inflammatory response.
This is not a new cycle and I don't expect that it will end any time soon. It's so easy to see how extremists from either side are able to inflame tensions here or elicit a response from the 'other side'. When we initially came here, we had trouble understanding what 'peacebuilding', our official job title, was. We now have a better understanding of some of what that means. When people are working so hard to kill and destroy, it's much clearer that there should be those that are working harder to build and encourage people towards peaceful, non-violent responses to injustices they see all around them.

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