Urgent Call for Prayer from Nablus

Dear Friends,

Salaam and love from your children here in Nablus.

I am writing this letter, with overwhelming pain, sadness and despair. It has been 19 days since the re-occupation of Nablus.  We have had this time to heal our wounds from the destruction done by Israeli tanks and the helicopters to our homes, schools, churches, mosques and many other buildings during the reoccupation.

We thought it was over and people here started to recover... but unfortunately the hope was demolished again when we were surprised on Friday night.  100 tanks and more than 1000 soldiers, with the coverage of aircrafts, invaded Nablus again. One parishioner has had to repair the glass of her house three times up till now.   She has suffered and is still suffering from all the so-called the war against terrorism.

St. Philip’s Episcopal Church buildings were also very badly affected.  80% of the glass was broken, and the church compound's wall was also destroyed.

We did not have the chance yet to forget all that, and here we are again waiting for the third round of massive destruction and massive arresting of young people.  The Israeli soldiers are going house to house, searching homes with police dogs.  Just this morning, soldiers awoke us at 5:00 am and announced in my neighborhood that all young men, 15-50 years, were to come to the central square for interrogation.  They were laughing and joking on the loudspeakers as they announced this.

Today it was reported that 1500 people were arrested and taken to a nearby military camp to be questioned and investigated.  This includes 21 foreigner peace activists and journalists, who were in Balata Camp, which has been declared a closes Israeli military zone.

I was called to St. Luke’s Hospital on Sunday morning; bearing in mind that curfew was imposed since Friday early morning.  I was told that the Israeli soldiers shot at an ambulance, which was bringing in a patient to be treated at the hospital. Then the soldiers came to the hospital entrance and called for a person to come down immediately.  Dr. Zahrah came down and she was told that: "No one goes out or comes in to the hospital unless we know about him or her.  If an ambulance comes, then it should stop at this spot (they showed where) so that it can be seen by the sniper's check point, to see if weapons or terrorists are being escaping with the ambulances. Then if thing are OK then one of your employees should bring a paper to the check point which says what is the patient's name and ID number, and we guarantee that this person well be alright."

People are living in poverty since there is no work and no jobs.  Even those who still work receive only half of their wages and some have gone on unpaid vacation. I really thank God that the St. Luke's Hospital is still offering the blessed ministry of healing.  This is due to the love and care of many people, especially the Diocese of Jerusalem, which pays more that £50,000 per month to cover the expenses of the Hospital; 90% of these expenses are salaries. It is important to note here that St Luke's Hospital is one of very very few institutions that still pay the salaries and wages of its employees in full.  We provide support to 13 Anglican families in Nablus and Rafidia and 15 in Zababdeh who are in desperate circumstances and struggling to provide for their children.  This Thank God for this.  We hope that the love and prayers of all our friends around the world will continue, in order to help us to help others.

The hospital has 6 patients right now.  There is a total curfew in effect throughout Nablus and the surrounding villages.  These patients have gotten stuck at the hospital because of the curfew; we hope that this will be over soon to allow people to benefit from the service we offer.

Now this is the fourth day in which people are imprisoned in their homes, not daring to peep out of the window.  Many people don't have enough food; others are sick and cannot reach the doctor, and many other stories we don't hear of.  The water and electricity have been cut to Balata and Al-Ain Camps in Nablus.  We were unable to gather to worship on Sunday in Rafidia, Zababdeh and Nablus.

May God protect all our people at this difficult time.  We ask all your blessings especially to those who suffer at this time. Amen

The Rev. Hosam Naoum

Nablus, Palestine

 June 3, 2002