Sent: Sunday, November 26, 2000 1:42 AM
Subject: Letter from Sisters Martha & Maria

THIS LETTER CAME FROM  SISTERS @ Orthodox School of Bethany in Jerusalem

 Dear Friends,

It is hard to keep silent much longer. The people of Beit Jala, in particular the Orthodox Christian neighborhoods, are being mercilessly hammered by the Israel military. Over the last few weeks homes and property have suffered extensive
 damage due to shelling from Israeli tanks and helicopter gun ships. The attacks  took a more ominous turn this past Sunday when a attack began in broad daylight.

 The Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas (built over the r-ell St. Nicholas of  Myra  lived in for three years when on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land) had been  packed  with worshippers attending the memorial service of a prominent local citizen.

Some parishioners went to a house next to the church following service for  coffee and to offer condolences to the family.
Suddenly the shooting began and 9 people were wounded including a 13 year old boy who was shot in the head. Last
 evening's attack was even more severe. Israeli shelling began about 4:30 p.m. and a heavy shooting barrage began after 11 pm.
The house of the former housemother of  the Orthodox School of Bethany, Miss Regina AbuTom, had all her windows shot out. Everyone in the house across from her was wounded and is now in the  hospital.

Another nearby home, belonging to the family of Damian ElAlla, parishioners of St. Nicholas, was completely destroyed. In the most outrageous attack, a German  doctor, the husband of a Palestinian woman, was killed as he tried to run  into the street to help a Palestinian police officer who lay wounded. The relatives of many nuns of the Convents of St. Mary Magdalene and the Convent of the  Ascension  on the Mount of Olives live in Beit Jala and the surrounding areas. Many  people are now homeless or in dire financial straits because of the damage done to  their  homes and property. As we approach the Feast Day of St. Nicholas we ask
for  your increased prayers for the innocent people of the Holy Land now undergoing such suffering. For those who are able to help financially please send contribution to:
Orthodox School of Bethany
 P.O. Box 20607

Checks should be made out to "Orthodox School of Bethany" and earmarked for the Beit Jala Relief Fund.

 Scenes from Israeli shelling of Beit Jala on Monday, October 24.  The volume and intensity of the shelling and bullets fired from
helicopters above has only increased in the last couple of weeks. Stress on the
families  is very real and very debilitating.

  An Israeli missile ripped into the bedroom of 4 year old Milad Nozal. The  family had evacuated the home only minutes earlier. Milad is a relative of sr.  Elena,  the longtime gatekeeper at the Convent of St. Mary Magdalene. Fragments of Israeli missile and icon of St. Nicholas found in Nozal apartment.
The icon of St. Nicholas was retrieved from a fire caused by the missile. It was miraculously unscathed by the flames. Missile went through the bedroom into adjoining bathroom and through the washing machine. Area where Israelis are shooting is a heavily populate  neighborhood of narrow streets and 2-3 story buildings.