It is 9:30 pm on Thursday. As I write this, shells are again hitting
the area in and around Bethlehem University. Throughout the evening and
night, there have been periods of heavy shelling in that area for three
nights in a row. The shooting and shelling seem to move back and forth
from one side of the Old City of Bethlehem to the other. First, close
here to the Lutheran Church, at the Cinema and University grounds, and
then over near Manger Square. Then back again.
Wanton destruction follows wanton destruction. Much of the new
infrastructure which was put in place in Bethlehem over the 2 years
prior to 2000 is now severely damaged or ruined, particularly the
streets as the tanks leave deep ruts and ridges in the pavement.
Families' businesses along Manger Road near Aida Camp are heavily
damaged. Countless families have now have lost their water tanks and
numerous windows from their homes. Others have suffered fires due to
But, the worst damage is to the people themselves. As I lay awake
listening to the shells explode and the machinegun fire bursts through
the night, I can hear the crying and screaming of children in the homes
near the church. As words of another casualty come in, I watch my
Palestinian colleagues shoulders drop and faces become lined with
indescribable sorrow. There is no relief for the pain.
Below you will find an appeal from the staff at Bethlehem University.
Unfortunately, there is remains a great need for it to be responded to,
as there is still no word when this invasion will end.
I thank you in advance for your continuing efforts to urge your
governments to respond swiftly to this crisis and for your prayers. We
need them both! For the sake of the children, do not grow weary in your
efforts to stop this madness.
Rev. Sandra Olewine
United Methodist Liaison - Jerusalem
URGENT PRESS RELEASE
Bethlehem University Appeals for Protection October 24,2001
After two long nights of heavy Israeli bombardment, we at Bethlehem
University arc pleading for international intervention to help spare our
Vatican-sponsored Palestinian university from further shelling of our
campus. The many precautionary attempts which we have taken to try to
protect the University from the heavy exchange of gunfire around the
University, including daily appeals to local, national, consular and
ecclesiastical authorities, as well as strengthening security measures
and flying the Vatican flag, have, unfortunately, not produced results.
Over the past two days, every building on campus except the Library
been hit by gunfire, with evidence of at least 45 tank shells and
hundreds of bullets found in the aftermath. Over 66 windows have been
broken, including 40 in the new soon-to-be-completed Academic Building.
The residence of the DE La Salle Christian Brothers (among whom are
eight Americans, three British and one Palestinian) has been pummeled by
at least 110 bullets over the past two days, including several in or
near bedrooms of the Brothers. Serious damage has been incurred in the
Midwifery Laboratory, to water storage tanks and water pipes, to various
parts of historic Bethlehem Hall, to stonework on several buildings
around campus and in the new Academic Building. Considering the heavy
bombardment to which we have been subjected, we are extremely fortunate
that no one has been billed or injured.
We are deeply concerned that each additional day Israeli tanks and
soldiers remain in Bethlehem (and other Palestinian areas), determined
and at times indiscriminate resistance to the occupation will continue
and thousands of lives of innocent people will be endangered. We are
also concerned that attacks on Christian institutions and holy sites
such as Bethlehem University, Holy Family Hospital, the Children's
Crèche, St. Catherine's Nativity Church and on other important sites
such as Husseini Hospital, the Paradise Hotel, and the Hodali Building
will also continue and wreak incalculable damage, physical and
psychological, to the city of Christ's birth.
We at Bethlehem University appeal to you in the strongest possible terms
to do whatever you can to help put an end to this tragic situation.
Pressuring Israel to withdraw immediately its military from Bethlehem
and other Palestinian cities would offer, at least for the moment,
relief to those of us caught in the dangerous crossfire of Israeli
occupation and Palestinian resistance.
Brother Vincent Malham, FSC
For more details you can contact Brother Vincent, Tel 00 972 2 274-1242
Fax 00 972 2 274-4440; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org