Press Release

Israeli Soldiers prevented Patriarch Michel Sabbah from entering Ein Arik
during a pastoral visit Jerusalem,

Friday 9 March 2001

Israeli soldiers located at the checkpoint on the entrance to the Village of Ein Arik near Ramallah prevented this afternoon Patriarch Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, from entering the mentioned village, despite learning who is the Patriarch and seeing his Holy See Diplomatic passport and his VIP Card given to His Beatitude by the Israeli Ministry of Religious Affairs.

It is good to add that the Patriarch, who was accompanied by the parish priests of Ramallah, was planning to celebrate Mass at the Parish Church of Ein Arik this evening.

The Israeli Soldiers at the mentioned Check point refused even to listen to explanations provided by Father Giovanni Cinti Parish priest of Ein Arik, but obliged him to sit on the floor for sometime before releasing him. Patriarch Sabbah couldn’t succeed to enter yesterday also the village of Bir Zeit  north of Ramallah, for celebrating Mass, since the village was disconnected by Israeli Army from all its surroundings.

We consider that this incident is a clear violation not only to diplomatic relations and agreements between the Holy See and the State of Israel, but a clear violation of the basic human rights of freedom of movement.

We really wonder if such incidents happen to a senior clergyman, so how is the daily life of the regular Palestinian citizens.

We appeal on the International community to make pressures on the State of Israel to stop in end the actual siege and closure of almost all the Palestinian villages and towns cutting it one from another making of it a real small prisons in a very big prison which is not legally, morally and humanly acceptable.

We are sure that this policy of collective punishment will not lead to justice and peace, will not end violence they produce nothing tangible for Israel or Israelis. They also do not increase security nor hasten the possibility of a negotiated settlement. Justice and only justice is the only solution for a real peace and security. We repeat and call upon all of our friends all over the world to make their voices heard to exert the utmost pressure upon their governments and the government of Israel to stop these illegal measures of collective punishment. Otherwise, we will face the brink of disaster.

Fr. Raed Abusahlia
Chancellor, Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem