Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees
Middle East Council of Churches

Irreconcilability of Israeli Military Action with Basic Human Rights of the
Alive and Dead.

On 01 April President Bush said, "There will never be peace so long as there
is terror." The Palestinian people are saying, "There will never be peace so
long as there is occupation."

Well into this morning, the sound of heavy Israeli bombardment of Ramallah
and Betuniah, to the West of Ramallah, was heard in the northern parts of
Jerusalem. According to news reports, up to 40 people were killed in the
building in Betuniah that serves as offices of the Palestinian Preventive
Services, a key security institution that was supposed, according to
American plans, to be instrumental for implementing peace plans between the
two sides. Four hundred people, including children, are in the building,
which according to various sources, has suffered up to 60% damage because of
the heavy bombardment. The bombardment goes on as of this writing.

Aside from the lack of food, medication and the curfew imposed on thousands
of Palestinians, there is continued Israeli harassment of medical staff and
ambulances. This has caused serious life-threatening situations to affect
children, women and countless others. The Israeli military refuses to give
permissions to transport the wounded sick or even to bury the dead. In the
Ramallah hospital, 25 bodies are stored in a below standard vault and the
Palestinian Ministry of Health as well as other medical and humanitarian
organizations have appealed to the Israeli military to allow them to bury
the dead. With the increase in the number of those killed in Ramallah and
Betuniah, there is an immediate need to give dignity to the dead.

News just received from Bethlehem speaks of the shelling of 3 churches,
burning of a church and possible injury and even death of clergy and nuns
among other civilians. Shelling, we just heard, seriously damaged for the
second time the statue of the Virgin Mary in the city of the Nativity. I
appeal to you to contact your governments, churches, constituencies and
other NGOS, to put pressure on the Israeli government to allow for the
fulfillment of basic rights to those suffering from the consequences of this
latest Israeli incursion into Palestinian Territories, whether dead or
alive. The sense of revenge that motivates the Israeli politicians and
military should be checked. The same statement that speaks of the need to
end terror should also speak of the need to end occupation. The ongoing
massive onslaught of the Israeli military on 3.3 million Palestinians is
leaving all of us traumatized and, for some, in direct line of danger.
Beside denying Palestinians their basic human rights, these latest
incursions and military actions make peace for us here ever more distant.

I trust that you would act on this urgent appeal immediately.

Dr Bernard Sabella
Executive Secretary

Jerusalem, 2 April 2002