Olive Branches- Issue No. 118 - Saturday, 1 December 2001

Dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters,

Let me begin by telling you what happened today with my colleague Fr. Aktham Hijazin, the parish priest of my village Zababdeh, which is 100 kms far from Jerusalem and 10 kms far from the nearest town of Jenin: Fr. Aktham is the director of our Latin Patriarchate school in the village in which study around 800 students who come mainly from the village but also there are 200 who come from the nearby villages even from Jenin. This morning two buses brought the boys and girls from Jenin, at the end of the school day, Jenin was invaded for the 4th time by the Israeli army and tanks and almost completely closed, people from the surrounding villages who work normally in Jenin couldnt return back home and even the 80 of our school boys and girls were not allowed to return back home to Jenin. After coordination with the Red Cross, Fr. Aktham and some teachers accompanied the two buses full of students (who are between 6 years old to 18) and when they reached nearby by Jenin the Israeli tanks stopped them and didnt allow them to go in and even when the priest tried to go down and negotiate with the soldiers, they began to shoot on the air for three times and didnt want even to speak with him and ordered them to go back.

If you were at his place, what would you have done with 80 scared students who would like to go home and join their families who are under military siege? Fr. Aktham decided to return back to Zababdeh with all the kids, when they arrived, they were received by a crowd of people from the village who offered them to eat because it was almost dark and was the time to take the Ramadan breakfast because some of them were Moslems and were fasting the whole day. Then the priest distributed the students to stay over night in the houses of our parishioners instead of leaving them alone at school. Every family was happy and proud to take one kid home and let him call this family in Jenin to tell them that he is safe and sane.

Tomorrow, Fr. Aktham will have another busy day after his Sunday mass, and maybe another adventure, because he has to send the students to Jenin which is still under heavy siege, otherwise they will have to stay in Zababdeh. Of course, they are most welcome among our kids and families, but do you think that their families will not be worried until they will be back home?!

This is a very simple story from many others our people are living each day that our kids should experience at this very young age, they are lucky that they are now safe in our village, because almost 110 of their colleagues lost their lives during the last 14 months, five boys were killed last week by a bomb explosion while they were going to their school, one was killed today in Jenin while he was returning home from school, he was 10 years old.

For more about news for the Holy Land please visit:
Fr. Raed Abusahlia
Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
P.O.Box  14152 - Jerusalem 97500
E-mail address: latinpat@actcom.co.il
Personal e-mail: nonviolence@writeme.com
Patriarchate's Homepage: http://www.lpj.org
Personal Homepage: http://go.to/nonviolence
Fr. Labib's Homepage: http://www.al-bushra.org
My brother's Homepage: http://go.to/samipage