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 I cannot write about the horrors of the weekend and what is continuously unfolding at the moment in Israel and Gaza.  My words, my thoughts will not be nuanced, wise or dexterous enough and will offer very little value to a situation where too many of us with too little knowledge have strong feelings and opinions. 

SO JUST SHOP's mission is to work with vulnerable women, many of whom are based in Palestine, so I will update you about their lives at the moment.   Life has never been easy for our artisan women, mostly based in Hebron (West Bank).  They live under Israeli military occupation, which controls every aspect of their lives, and, as women living in a society governed by patriarchal customs, are unequal members of society subject to discriminatory laws. (Amnesty International).  We work with a wonderful cooperative, run by the indomitable Basima Barham.  They work with around 150 female artisans, providing them with a steady income in an area of huge poverty and unemployment.  HLHCS became the first Arab member of the World Fair Trade Organisation in 1991 and Basima is most proud of being able to ensure the women working within the cooperative will have the same rights and opportunities as any of their male fair trade colleagues.

We've been in touch with Basima continuously since Saturday, she is based in Bethlehem in the West Bank.  All of our artisans are fine, she writes:
"We are fine until now, situation is terrible, the sound of missiles and death, please pray for us dear friends"
"In Bethlehem, our public life has come to a halt.  Streets everywhere are almost empty and we fear the war in Gaza might spill into the West Bank.  Checkpoints around Bethlehem are closed and barriers separating Bethlehem from the rest of the West Bank are blocked"
We placed an order with Basima a few weeks ago, this has now arrived in Bethlehem but it is almost impossible to ship anything out at this time. It sounds so trivial and unimportant but the reality behind it is hard.  It is not safe for people to go to work, it is extremely difficult to find any couriers that can pick up the products so they can be shipped.  Airports and ports are blocked with priority given to humanitarian aid and the army.  But people still need to earn a living, still need to feed themselves and their children, buy medical supplies, pay for water and electricity.  So if you can, please keep buying our Palestinian ceramics, some we have in stock, some will be delivered to you once they can be shipped (we will keep you updated) and we can pay our artisans for future orders, providing them with a vital source of income until it is safe for them to get back to work.
Thank you for your continued support, to all of you that are affected by this, I send my thoughts and I hope that a path through may be found soon.
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