Olive Branch - Issue No. 136 - Tuesday,
12 March 2002
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Dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters,

 Never we had such huge amount of continuous violence in the Holy Land, even the 1967 war finished in 6 days without this amount of casualties and destruction… Therefore, I arrived to this conclusion: that we are not making Intifada (uprising) but a real war, but with one difference with any traditional wars were you find two armies very will equipped and prepared for war, here you have a civilian population under occupation in front of a whole very will equipped army with the most sophisticated American weapon used in the field of the battle. But, nevertheless, I see that the strongest army in the Middle East and maybe the forth-stronger army in the world will not win the war because they cannot defeat the will of a whole nation. We are experiencing the begging of the end of the last and only bloody occupation in the modern time and in the whole world, I say this and I am confident that is part of the historical determinisms that never an occupier won a battle against an occupied nation, because the right of the might will never defeat the might of the right.

Now let me share with you three events:

Last Sunday the Patriarch Michel Sabbah celebrated the mass at St. Catherine’s Church in Bethlehem which was attended by a lot of people from all the denomination even Moslems including the civil and religious authorities in the city. He wanted to launch two messages: a message of solidarity with the local population both Moslems and Christians, he wanted to tell them that the church is near to them and will stand always with the truth. The second is a message of peace for both Palestinians and Israelis, therefore he called the Israelis to make pressures on their governor to stop it’s occupation of the Palestinian people and land because their security is in their hands and linked to the security and peace of the Palestinian people. After the mass we marched though the empty streets of Bethlehem to the completely demolished Police headquarter where we had a short prayer for the victims and for peace. It was a real pain to see such a huge destruction in that entire neighborhood, many houses were affected but the huge explosion of the American Missiles launched by F 16 airplanes. After words we visited the school of St Joseph’s school which was also hit by another missile and the nearby Bethlehem University which was hit with four other missiles for the second time leaving lot of destruction in the newly inaugurated Millennium Hall and nearby library (see the press release).

 One of the worst images we images we saw last days on the TVs was the scene of gathering more than 1200 young men between 14 to 40 years old at Deheisheh refugee camp which was visited by Pope Jean Paul II during his historical visit to the Holy Land where he said that the suffering of the Palestinian people was very long and should strop soon. It seems that it didn’t stop at all. This is the scene described by Gush Shalom statement: “Suffocating indeed. The images were there the whole day, on Israeli as well as international TV networks alike. Soldiers preparing for entry into Qalqilia on the West Bank, being issued with plastic handcuffs by their officers; the soldiers inside Qalqilia like those already at Dheishe Refugee Camp using the handcuffs to tie up hundreds of Palestinian men - young to middle-age - and then cover their eyes with strips of cloth before marching them into a building where they are subjected - outside the cameras' field of vision - to "interrogation." These pictures reminded me of the Nazi concentration camps were Jews where gathered and detained. The parallelism might be very strong and disproportion, but is quiet the same especially because it is practiced by the same people which suffered a lot against an innocent people. The Israelis have done a big mistake in this scene, they used a black and while blindfolds which reminds us with the same color of the clothes the Jews used to dress in that camps. I remember that in 1999 when I was studying German we visited Dakhuo concentration camp nearby Munich, I was very touched to see that horrible place, and I remember that I wrote in Golden Book of the quests these words: “I am very sorry for what happened here, but I am afraid that this same people is doing the same thing with my people, please don’t repeat this tragedy”.

The third event: Last night the Israeli army shelled in the center of Gaza a workshop in a store belonging to the Latin Patriarchate adjacent to our convent, church and school. The three missile fall on that store and pierced the walls through and hit our school and down and hit  our kindergarten putting fire on two flours leaving huge damage. I know very well that they didn’t want to hit our Church even if they know that it is nearby; I know that they said that they targeted a weapon factory which is not right at all, because it is unbelievable that we rent a store nearby a schools and a church to a weapon factory, we know very well and we saw that on the TVs and we received report from our Parish priest Fr. Manauel Musallam that this poor man has simple machines to produce radiator of the central heating systems. Therefore, we condemn this act and we wait for an explanation form the army and we thank God this was during the night and no one was injured and harmed even if the house of our priest and the other three Rosary sisters is some meters far from the place of this explosion. We ask also our Austrian friends from the Order of the Holy Sepulcher who funded this school and kindergarten to know that it needs reparation before continuing the 250 kids in the Kindergarten and the 1000 students in the school return save to continue their study.

 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