Olive Branch from Jerusalem
News, articles and documents from the Holy Land
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Nove. 16, 2000


“Peace will be the fruit of Justice and my people will dwell in the beauty of Peace”


Thursday, 16 November 2000


Dear Friends,

We have just returned back from Beit Jala where we attended at the funeral of Dr. Harry Fisher, a German doctor married with a Palestinian woman, and working in our country since more than 20 years. He died yesterday at midnight during a raid of the Israeli Helicopters on Beit Jala. He is really the martyr of his noble duty of a doctor who went to help and rescue his neighbors whose house was shelled and burned. I will leave the details of this horrible story to the testimonies that I collected from Marnia Barham who wrote us from Beit Jala, and the speech of the Lutheran Bishop Mounib Younan who presided the funeral service, and finally the news reported by Agence France Presse. I just can say that thousand of people from all Bethlehem area took part in this funeral including the German consul general in Jerusalem, the French consul general in Jerusalem, Bishop Lutfi Lahham from the Greek Catholic Chruch, our auxiliary bishop Kamal Bathish and many other priests and Muslim clerics and the Palestinan authority representative. Dr. Harry was proclaimed “Martyr of the human duty”, he will be mourned by a general strike which will be observed tomorrow in the whole Bethlehem area.

As we were expecting, the American Bishops Conference issued a very strong statement on the Middle East, entitled “Returning to the Path of Peace in the Middle East”. We thank them for this strong position, but we need more pressure on the American Administration to work for a just peace, because we believe that the keys of the solution is in the hands of the United States if they will stand with justice and truth not only with Israel.

You will find also a letter from the President of the Catholic Bishops Conference, Bishop Fiorenza, to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Michel Sabbah. This letter came as a response of the letter sent by our Patriarch to the American Bishops Conference that we also publish for your knowledge. This same letter is also addressed to everybody in the world and to each one of you. I can call this letter “the Patriarch’s Appeal” to the world, hoping to find good response from you as it found from the American Bishops.

Best wishes from Beit Jala the shelled city of martyrs.                                                                                                                                                                         Fr. Raed Abusahlia



1) Logos Services Centre <logosc@yahoo.com>
Beit Jala, Nov 16 10:53:09 2000

Dear everyone on earth,
The brutality of the Israeli army have proofed itself  yesterday. They shelled Beit Jala non-stop for more than eight hours. Causing electricity cut off. Killing a German Doctor who has lived in Beit Jala for years. Harry Fisher, the doctor tried to save his neighbors who had fire in their house from the missiles. The ambulance could not get to the injured, they also tried to walk on foot, but they could not. So Harry decided to go himself to his neighbors. Immediately as he walked out he was hit by a missile, which cut him into pieces.

The bombardment continued using tank missiles and then helicopters missiles, which were the scariest. I still do not know how many people were injured or how many houses were destroyed? I know for sure that the horror we went through is nothing compared to families who lived down town of Beit Jala.

I cannot write more now, I am tired, outraged and extremely sad for the loss of Harry, whose nobility killed him.................

Marina Barham


2) Speech of Bishop Mounib Younan

during the funeral service of Dr. Harry Fisher Estephan


Dear Bereaved sisters and brothers,

Palestine is giving a new martyr. The Lutheran Church offers a martyr that has given his life for the service of the Palestine.

We ask today: What is his guilt to die as a doctor from Germany married to a Palestinian women and living in Beit Jala over 17 years?

What is his guilt that he went to give the first aid to save humanity and keep the dignity of his medical profession? What is his guilt as he came to serve human being, being Palestinian or German or others, being Christian or Muslim?

The bombs seek to attach the safe homes and the unarmed civilians.

For this reason, Dr. Harry, you join today the cloud of martyrs who gave their lives for the freedom of humanity. We cry to the world saying “Neither the shelling nor heavy artillery nor modern weapons nor demolishing homes can implement a just peace in this region. The Lasting comprehensive joint peace can be achieved when every nation gets their rights according to the international legitimacy and U.N. resolutions and through the constructive political dialogue that imposes freedom and security”.

For this we cry: Enough bloodshed. Enough injustice. Enough war. Enough bombing. Enough fear and horror. Enough is enough. Let us work for just peace. And instead of bloodshed and money spent for weapons, let us use this money to build a just peace, to construct homes and establish the independent Palestinian State with Jerusalem as its capital.

We denounce these shelling against the people of Beit Jala, Beit Sahour, Ramallah, Nablous and Hebron and wherever they are happening. We pray for quick recovery for the wounded, condolence to families of the martyrs and security for our traumatized children.

Our comfort is in the resurrection. Although it seems that death and oppression and hatred are strong – it was these that led our Lord Jesus to the cross. But death was not the end. But resurrection was the voice of justice, of truth. Peace and reconciliation that cried and still cries to the world that there is no other way that lasts.

We in the ELCJ, Palestine, Jordan and the Middle East, as a bishop of the church, and on behalf of the Lutheran World Federation that represents 70 million people in the world, we say this is not acceptable; injustice must stop.

We comfort this family and all the families who have lost loved ones. We say that the resurrection taught us that the future of this country is only in lasting, comprehensive, just peace that secures the rights of the Palestinian people.

May God give you the power of the resurrection.


3) Thousands Join Funeral for German Doctor Killed in Israeli Raid

Agence France Presse
November 16, 2000, Thursday 11:16 AM, Eastern Time

BEIT JALA, West Bank - Hundreds of mourners joined the funeral procession Thursday for a German doctor killed in an Israeli bombardment of this Arab town, the first foreign casualty in seven weeks of Israel-Palestinian bloodletting.

Harry Fischer, who was married to a Palestinian woman, was hit by an Israeli shell or rocket as he was leaving his house to help his neighbours, whose house was set ablaze after being hit in the overnight attack.

"Dr H. Fischer: a pioneer in human services in Palestine cut into pieces by Israeli missiles doing his sacred duty," read one banner carried by mourners as they took his body in an open coffin to the town's Lutheran church.

Fischer's lower body was wrapped in Palestinian and German flags and his head covered in a keffiyeh, the traditional chequered Palestinian headdress.

"Your blood did not spill for nothing, the Israeli army will pay," chanted women from Beit Jala.

The town that lies between Jerusalem and the Palestinian-ruled city of Bethlehem has faced frequent shelling from Israeli forces in retaliation for shooting against the nearby Jewish settlement of Gilo which lies in what Israel considers the municipal borders
of Jerusalem.

An AFP correspondent who saw the body said much of Fischer's left leg and part of his hand was blown away by the blast. His body was also burned and was left in the middle of the road for at least two hours because the Israeli army prevented an ambulance from reaching the scene.

Local residents said Fischer, said to be in his late 50s, had lived in the village for 25 years and had three children with his Palestinian wife.

Seven Palestinian were also injured during the Beit Jala raid, one of a series of strikes launched by Israel overnight in the West Bank.

Fischer is one of the 233 people to have been killed over the past seven weeks, most of them Palestinian in clashes with Israeli security forces.

(c) AFP

Fr. Raed Awad Abusahlia
P.O.Box 14152  Jerusalem  91141
Tel.  00 972 2 6282323/6272280
Fax  00 972 2 6271652