At 7:30 a.m. each school day, a few Christians from various parts of the world stand near a military checkpoint in Hebron, offering schoolgirls smiling facesand protection as they pass a daunting obstacle course of checkpoints, soldiers, settlers, and the occasional stoning and harassment. The students, ages 6 to 16, are headed for Cordoba Girls School, located inside Area H2, the area of Hebron under Israeli military control. The volunteers watching over them are from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).
In 2001, church leaders from Israel and Palestine asked the World Council of Churches to provide "more than statements" about their precarious and all too often violent situation. The "more" became the accompaniment program, which allows Christians from around the world to come together with the people of Palestine and Israel in their daily life and work.
Unlike other peace groups working in the area, EAPPI draws participants from a wide range of churches and countriesnot just the United States, but nine other countries: New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. And in June, the first four "accompaniers" arrived from South Africa, fresh from intensive nonviolence training both at home and in Jerusalem.