The last few days have passed with fewer incidents, although Friday
still a difficult day. Two deaths were especially heartbreaking as they
exemplify the innocent people who are dying just because of where they
live, not because they are involved in any demonstrations or activities.
A 23 day old baby girl from Hebron, Hind Nidal Jamil Abu Qweidar, died
Friday morning as a result of tear gas inhalation. According to human
rights reports, her father was prevented by the Israeli military from
taking her to the hospital for medical treatment, with the justification
that the area was under Israeli-imposed curfew. She died in her home.
Ghazaleh Jawdat Issa Ahmad Jarradat, 13 years old from Sa'ir, Hebron,
shot by live ammunition to her head while walking home from school in the
early afternoon. She was declared clinically dead a few hours later.
We lift our prayers for all the families grieving, but particularly
those whose children's lives have been cut short, for those who will
never be able to hold their children again...
We give thanks that this weekend saw a reduction in machine gun fire
tank shelling and the possibility for people to get some sleep.
Friday night Beit Sahour again experienced a period of machine gun
fire and shelling from the tanks, but Beit Jala was quiet. Saturday and
Sunday nights passed with little activity, praise God, although there
were small clashes near Rachel's Tomb on both Saturday and Sunday
While Palestinian police and security forces are working at keeping
away from the flash points to help reduce the chances of engagement, there
are still occurances happening. Jericho received shelling from tanks
last night in response to reported shooting towards the Israeli military
base in the area.
The death toll now stands at over 150. There have been more Palestinians
killed in the last 5 weeks than in the entire first year of the Intifada.
Unforunately, numerous people who remain in the hospital are critically
wounded. Even if no new incidents occur, it is likely the death toll will
The Union of Palestinian Medical Relief did a population proportion
analysis to help people understand the magnitude of lose. If a similar
period happened in the US, the 150 deaths here would be equal to 7,500
dead ther and the 5,000 injured would be equal 433,000. With such figures
one can begin to comprehend the impact on the medical infastructure, as
well as the social and personal trauma.
With US elections tomorrow, our part of the world will slip off the
pages, at least for a day or two. But President Arafat is scheduled to
meet with President Clinton on Thursday and Prime Minister Barak next
Monday. I believe there is a small window here for diplomatic
One friend told me this morning that her 9-year old daughter said in
response to a gift of chocolate which came with a note hoping for peace,
"I don't want peace. I want my freedom." Peace and freedom... These two
things can no longer be separated for the Palestinian people, for truly
peace here can not only mean the mere cessation of hostilities. It must
mean freedom, dignity, and relative justice are close at hand.
I invite you to join me in prayers for for bold and courageous leadership
in this moment -- for the well-being of both peoples.
Rev. Sandra Olewine
United Methodist Liaison - Jerusalem