Below is an excerpt from a letter which was just sent out by the
International Center in Bethlehem. Firing has become quite heavy, with
2 new deaths in Beit Jala: a young girl and a young woman.
We're now trying to make arrangements to get some of our colleagues
of their houses near Aida and 'Aza Refugee Camp who are in the midst of
heavy shelling. It seems that Israel is beginning a move to re-occupy
all of the Bethlehem area.
Rev. Sandra Olewine
United Methodist Liaison - Jerusalem
The International Center wrote:
"Palestinians in the Bethlehem area have become almost used to being
trapped in our town, particularly in the last 13 months of the Intifada.
But, now, not only are we trapped, we also face the turret of a tank
matter which direction we look. (Israelis report they have deployed 30
tanks in the area now.)
Life has come to a stop. On Friday, no one could get to the Center,
most staff lived in areas in which heavy firing was occurring. For the
safety of the students, all schools are closed (a 10-year old school
girl was killed by Israeli fire on Thursday morning in Jenin), shops are
closed today in memorial of the three Palestinians who were killed
yesterday in their homes by Israeli fire.
Even now as we write this, tanks shells are exploding around the
Bethlehem area and a young girl and a young women in Beit Jala have just
been killed. Some of our staff have just called, Faten and Carol,
are in the middle of extremely heavy firing.
What do we feel?
There is no time to feel, to weep, death comes upon death, destruction
As the shelling becomes louder and nearer, as we listen to the wailing
of the ambulance sirens going nearby, we urge you not to leave us
'orphans.' Do not forget us in our time of trial. Pray for us, but in
these days, more importantly, contact your government officials urging
them to intercede before more people are killed.
"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not
driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not
destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the
life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies." (2 Corinthians
+ The Staff of the International Center of Bethlehem