Update on Situation in Deheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem

Water: The water has been on for 1 – 2 days at a time since the new year began. It usually goes off for 2 or 3 weeks.  It came on the day I arrived, 18th March, for 24 hours, then went off until the day before I left, 1st April. It runs slowly so does not fill all the tanks while it is on.
If they run out of water, we buy it in a tanker which delivers to the camp and costs about £55, according to the exchange rate of the shekel to the £ sterling..
There is still a lot of unemployment, and many families without any income, so we try to give each of our 43 families something. They have 223 children between them. We are saving for Ramadan, as they will need extras at that time.
While I was there, there were several Israeli incursions into the camp at night. One night, the house opposite us was entered and searched, and then the people were told they had the wrong name, so it wasn’t them they were looking for!! No apology, or help to put everything back in it’s place. The children were upset.
It seems the Israelis regularly make raids in the camp, and arrest people, with no charges for weeks and months sometimes. My friend works at a hotel in Bethlehem and sometimes has to be there at 5am if a group want early breakfast. it could be around midnight when he returns home, and it is an ordeal for him as if he meets soldiers in the camp, they could arrest him, or question him, which would delay him getting to his work.
There will be closures during the next week or so, as the Easter for Latins,(R/C’s) and Orthodox, is at the same time, which means the Old City will be very crowded as all the celebrations will be taking place at the same time. As it is also the time of Pesach, (Passover), so there will be closures in the West Bank, so people will not be allowed into Jerusalem. This usually causes a lot of problems, as Palestinians may not be allowed to go to work, or to pray in the churches there.
There are extra restrictions now because of the settler family who were killed, although it is thought by many that a Thai worker who was employed by the family murdered them, as he had not received his salary, and was owed 10,000 shekels.
Families are struggling to make ends meet, as prices are going up all the time. Yousef is hoping to come to Cheltenham in December to do some fund raising with me. We would cook Arabic Meals, and sell goods from the Holy Land, and I will give an update of the situation. If anyone would like to host an event, please let us know via the Glos PSC website.
Joanne

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