Olive Branch - Issue No. 149 -
Saturday, 27 April 2002

Dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters,

Last Thursday our Patriarch accompanied the convoy of humanitarian aid to Jenin and it’s camp which is prepared by the joint Christian relief agencies in Jerusalem. This is the forth convoy after the one of Bethlehem, Tulkarem and Nablous. It was really a very touching experience to visit the city and the camp and see and touch the brutality of man against his brother. My own conclusion was that we are losing our humanity in this bloody war of destruction lead by a whole army against civilian population who’s militants are defending their right for freedom and independence. I don’t justify the Palestinian violence, but I cannot also but condemn the Israeli Barbary in destroying a whole camp where used to live 15.000 people who are now became homeless and refugees for the third time. What happened in Jenin camp is simply morally unacceptable and unjustified. You cannot even believe that “a democratic state with the most moral army in the world” as Mr. Katsav said lately, committed such a war crimes in front of the world. I am sure that they did worst than an earthquake can do, this is the least that we can say. What a shame!

Yesterday, a prayer was held at St. Anne’s Church during which Men and women Religious of the Holy Land have written a message for Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat calling for an end to war and the endless chain of violence. With regard to the two peoples, Israelis and Palestinians, the Religious say: "we see no other solution than sharing and collaboration". The message was released in Jerusalem at the Church of Saint Anne where there will be an interreligious assembly, attended by Nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah as well as Rabbis and Muslim leaders. After this the Christians will pray the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa (due to different calendars, the Eastern Churches are still in the Season of Lent). You can find herewith the English text of the message (You find a French, Italian, Spanish, German and Arabic translation published in my homepage http://go.to/nonviolence ).

Tomorrow the Patriarch will celebrate the Oriental Palm Sunday in our Parish in Ramallah after the partial end of the occupation of the city which lasted more than four weeks. People will be able to go to Sunday mass for the first time and begin the holy week in this atmosphere of fear amidst the war and destruction. While in Bethlehem area for the forth consecutive Sunday people will not be able to attend mass especially in the Nativity Church which is still under strict siege. It seems that the negotiation didn’t give yet any fruits, which means that the siege of the Church and the whole Bethlehem area will enter its forth week and approach one month.. It is really incredible and unacceptable, because this has never happened anywhere in the world and during the whole history of mankind... This is the Israeli democracy!
 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