His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, visited this afternoon the city of Beit Jala, where he was received in our Seminary there by a very big delegation of the people, such as the mayor, members of the Palestinian National Council, parishioners, and many journalists.. He heard a full explanation about what is happening in their city. After the meeting we moved with the delegation and visited more that ten damaged houses by the Israeli nocturne attacks on the city from the nearby Settlement of Gilo.. We were astonished and impressed that most of the missiles fall in the sleeping rooms civilians and damaged parts of these houses.. Thanks God that there was not any human casualties, there was three injuries reported only.. because people used to flee the houses during the attacks or sleep in hidden parts of their houses, because most of the houses in our country don't have any kind of under ground shelters...
We noticed that the people are scared especially children.. the hate
the night, because during darkness they are afraid to be attacked. But,
Nevertheless, we noticed that these people are very proud and determinate,
especially, they have a great feeling of solidarity between all the inhabitants,
and they really feel like one family... It is also very interesting to
notice also, that a theatre was also hit by a missile in this area, when
we entered we saw more that fifty children rehearsing for artistic activities
which will be performed for all the children of the zoon and in many schools
in order to entertain the scared children of this area, and the trainer
told us "that they wanted to destroy our theatre but we will not
stop and let them destroy the spirits of our Children... They destroy and
we will continue to build.." This was great for me, I felt that this people
will not die but want to live... but in freedom like all the other
peoples of the world...
After this visit to Beit Jala, we moved to the nearby refugee camp AIDA
(which means RETURN) which is very closed to both the tomb of Rachel from
one side, and the settlement of Gilo from the other side... Here we visited
some damaged houses, a very big stone factory which was attacked by five
huge missiles launched by Helicopter-gun-fire-jet...But the most emotional
moment was when we arrived to the house of one of the martyrs, a 13 years
old boy who was killed by a life bullet on his head during confrontations
with the soldiers around the Tomp of Rachel... The Patriarch presented
the condolence to the family, father and mother and grandmother and he
said a consolation words and hoped that the blood of this boy and all the
martyrs will not go in vain but will be the grain of the future independence
and freedom for the Palestinian people.. and in this house he spoke with
all the journalists who accompanied us during the entire visit, most of
them local TV station who broadcasted a full report about the visit during
After this two hours round, the Patriarch visited some religious houses,
such as the Franciscan sisters of Mary who are in the midst of AIDA refugee
camp. He visited Cremisan Salesian Convent. then we returned to the Seminary
in Beit Jala where he met with our Seminarians who live since more than
ten days on the tonality of the shootings almost each night, they are scared
but more than that, their families are worried and storm them with phone
call each day, because two third are from Jordan.. Fr. Maroun the Rector
of the Seminary accompanied the Patriarch in this round with some of the
seminarians, also Fr. Ibrahim Ayyad, who is 91 years old, and a very famous
figure in the Palestinian arena, was with us all the time.
After all, I still wondering and asking myself, why all this is happening? When all this will stop? Why these people don't have the right to be protected or to live a normal life in freedom? Why they have to pay this heavy price each day? Will they forget and forgive? What kind of dreams they dream our children each night if they can even sleep?.... and many other questions in my mind...!! If you can help us to give a definitive answer to all these questions, please, do some thing soon...!!!
After this narrative of the visit of the Patriarch, I will leave you
with another testimony of what happened in this same area,... Mr. George
Abu-Dayya, was kind enough to send me these information.. and he is updating
me and collecting facts from the ground inorder to share it with you..
I would like to thak him for his hard work and to thank you for you patience...
Israeli Brutality Renewed
Undefended and exposed to Israeli assaults, the peaceful town of Beit Jala has, once again, become the target of Israeli fusillade of 500mm machine-gun fire followed by an assault with missiles launched towards the center of the town.
On the evening of Monday, October 23,2000, and less than 24 hours after the first missile assault on the Nazzal family house in Beit Jala, The Israeli fighter helicopters once again opened 500mm machine–gun fire on the almost deserted quarter where the Nazzal family lives. Their target was, this time, about 100 meters to the south, where the Zummar family lives, in the vicinity of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, the Patron Saint of Beit Jala.
The devastation was heavier this time, but thank God, no casualties were reported. One missile hit the garage of the Zummar family in the basement of the house, completely destroying the daughter’s brand-new car; (Installments are still being paid). The family car was destroyed as well, and serious damage was caused to the foundations of the building. A second missile hit their bathroom and destroyed it completely. The Zummar family will have to seek shelter somewhere else until their bathroom is rebuilt. Another missile hit main pillar of the neighboring house; the house is no longer habitable now. Another missile landed on the main road digging up a hole about 8 feet in diameter and about four feet deep; completely destroying the power lines, the water pipes and the telephone lines.
The damage caused by the 500mm machine-gun volley was by no means less serious. The glass of nearly all the houses in the vicinity was shattered, scattered fires broke out in the neighborhood and could not be easily put out because the water reservoirs on the roofs were blown up by the machine –gun fire. A taxi cab and another private car parked by the roadside were seriously damaged as well.
A simple analysis reveals a significant shifting in the Israeli policy towards the Palestinians under the National Palestinian Authority, coinciding with the resolutions of the last Cairo Arab Summit Conference and the severance of the diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab states. This shift can be characterized as a progressive step from assaults on unarmed, defenseless civilians to a more serious step like re-occupation, or even, annexation of territories to stop alleged attacks of Palestinian demonstrators on Israeli soldiers and settlers.
The rationale for this policy is well known to all, but due to the absence of a stable Palestinian, Arab and global policy to encounter the Israeli scheme, which represents a blatant violation of the international norm of protecting civilians, Israeli violations will continue unabated. This development might just nib in the bud any opening of new vistas in the peace process.
George Abu Dayyeh
Fr. Raed Awad Abusahlia
of the latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Personal Secretary of H.B. Patriarch Michel Sabbah