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Franciscan Friary
St. Francis Str. 1

The Custody
is present in:
Israel / Palestine
Buenos Aires


in various
all around
the world

Urgent appeal from The Holy Land

The Holy Land on fire

Tension, terror, blood and death have become a daily occurrence in the Holy Land. Accusations fly from one side to another. Aggression and outright murder have cast a veil of sorrow over this Land and resulted in a stream of tears. Again Bethlehem has seen an army marching in with its tanks and soldiers! The friars have been living under this constant threat of terror and tension since the beginning of the bloodshed over a year ago. With Bethlehem becoming a battleground where Churches have been hit and in Manger Square blood has been shed, the friars cannot but ask again that all the brotherhood and friends to pray for peace and International Leaders to do their utmost to help them come out of this spiral of violence that has left hundreds dead in the streets and homes of the Holy Land.

The Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem issued a declaration (October 19th 2001) in which they deplored all acts of violence and appealed to World Church Leaders and International Community to make urgent representation to the Israeli Government to end this situation: "Following the targeted killings, there has been a dramatic intervention, within the last few hours, in the Autonomous Palestinian Territories by the Israeli Armed Forces. Tanks are everywhere, buildings have been besieged; some areas are under curfew and there is extensive shooting... At a time when Western Leaders are concerned with fighting terrorism it seems that Palestinian residents (both Moslem and Christians) are subjected to similar acts to which the world pays little attention."

On the same day the Patriarch of Jerusalem HB Mgr. Michel Sabbah sent out a letter to all the faithful. Among other things he reiterated that: "Killing is evil. All violence is evil. All war disfigures the countenance of God, and is therefore evil. Only the murderer strives for murder. He opens the gates of death and makes the person enter. In our Holy Land the element that opens the gates to death is the military occupation. Therefore we say: the suffering of the Palestinian people until today is enough. It's time to end this tragedy... With our Brothers, the Patriarchs of the Holy City and all the Heads of the Churches of Jerusalem we declare: Enough bloodshed; enough fighting! Shut the gates of death, of hatred and of terror. Stop the shedding of blood that calls for other bloodshed. The blood of all victims cries before God and before every human conscience. Restore the occupied land to the real owners, thus allowing hearts to regain serenity and every human being to regain full humanity, and for Palestinians and Israelis to regain equally the dignity given by God!"

Yesterday, Tuesday 23rd October 2001 a Solidarity Convoy for Peace was organised. The Apostolic Nuncio, the Patriarch of Jerusalem together with other Heads of Churches, including Fr. Custos, Giovanni Battistelli, took part in it. This started at Tantur Checkpoint and here are some excerpts from an eyewitness account written by the Chancellor of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem: "We didn't expect so many people.. when we arrived at the Nativity Church, many others joined us and the numbers grew to thousands... We didn't expect that the soldiers would let us enter Bethlehem.. it seems they had orders not to create any problem for us and even to withdraw completely from all the areas. We didn't see any soldier, any military Jeep, any tank, even if the night before there was a very heavy battle in all the streets of Bethlehem...I was very shocked to see the amount of destruction in Bethlehem.. you barely recognised that this is Bethlehem that we knew.. after the rehabilitation of its entire infrastructure for the Jubilee Year... We wanted to say to our people: "Peace be with you, don't be afraid, we are with you". We wanted to say to the Israeli soldiers: "Leave us in peace and you will have peace". We wanted to say to the Israeli people: "You want peace and security? Permit justice for the Palestinian people". We wanted to say to the whole world: "Please, help both our peoples to build peace". And as Moses said to the Pharaoh, we now say: 'let our people live'... I am now more convinced than ever that non-violence is a great power, and unfortunately our people haven't used it enough. Don't think that we resolved the entire problem and brought resolution to the whole conflict; it was just a small drop of water in an ocean of blood, hatred and rage. Imagine, that when we left Bethlehem at 3.00 p.m., both sides started firing again as if shooting was a hobby or an addiction from which they simply cannot quit..."

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Created / Updated Monday, December 17, 2001 at 04:15:38 by John Abela ofm
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