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Franciscan Friary
St. Francis Str. 1
Jerusalem



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ANOTHER DAY OF EXTREME TENSION

06.04.2002

The Franciscan Friars of the Holy Land are still living another day of extreme tension due to the situation which has developed at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem and its adjacent buildings, especially in our friary.

The situation is getting worse by the hour:

This morning the israeli soldiers opened fire in the direction of our brother Ibrahim Faltas, the friar responsible for the juridical status of the Basilica. This took place when he had opened the window of his room.

The Israeli army continues to block any supply and food is becoming scarce as the friars are sharing in some way the little they have left with the over 200 armed palestinian men who have locked themselves up in the Basilica, in the Church and in the Friary. The Israeli army openly declared that they want to force the armed men to surrender without keeping in mind the friars and nuns who are with them.

The Israeli army has officially defined the friars as "hostages". The REACTION OF THE CUSTODY WAS INDIGNANT AND IMMEDIATE. The custody has "solemnly declared in front of the world" that the Friars ARE NOT hostages because they are in their home, in the precise place where they should be, in faithfulness to their duties and the orders of the Superiors.

Clear is the strange lexical insistence of the Army which could not have any other aim other that to try to legitimate an armed assault to the Sanctuary and adjacent buildings. The Israeli officials in fact have given their assurance, in the beginning, that the Army will not storm the sacred area to capture the armed palestinain men. But, having declared that the religious personnel as "hostage", the army could present the operation as a "hostage rescue".... In order to avoid this nightmarish scenery (it is impossible to separate the friars from the armed men who have mixed with them, not to mention the sacrilegious act which the shedding of blood would incur..etc..) the Custody has officially admonished, keeping also to higher orders, that NO PRETEXT can ever justify an armed action in a Holy Site.

The spokesman of the Custody, in emphasising this position, refers also to the agreements which have the value of international law. These would be violated by such an incursion. One suppose that this refers, among others, to the fundamental Agreement between the Holy See and the State of Israel (1993).

Nothing diminish the objective gravity of the choice carried out by the armed palestinian men on Tuesday 2nd April when then forced their way in our house, church and sanctuary and where they have barricaded themselves. This too is not compatible with the basic Agreement between the Holy See and the palestinians (2000) even if there is the objective extenuating circumstance that they were fleeing from the Israeli army who were chasing them. Certainly, once inside, even if abusively, in the enclosure, we are preoccupied even for their incolumity. We want to see a PEACEFUL, DIGNIFIED, HONOURABLE solution, which respects the life and incolumity of ALL THE PERSONS who are in the holy area, armed or not, notwithstanding if they are there legally or not.

A plan in this sense, which oversees the just preoccupation of both parties, the Israeli and Palestinian, already exist, and have been presented to them a short while after the beginning of this hallucinating crises. We ask that all will appeal to both parties to accept this plan. We believe there is no objective justification that one or the other party could not accept.

It is in this sense that we ask for the affective and effective solidarity of our brothers in the Order and all the brothers and sisters of the Franciscan family. Let us remind ourselves that this is the birthplace of Baby Jesus, Prince of Peace, and we place ourselves under the protection of the Sacred Family who dwelled there.

We heartily thank the Very Reverend Minister General, Giacomo Bini, ofm, successor of Saint Francis, who is very close to us with his fraternal and public initiatives.

Br. David-Maria A. Jaeger, ofm
Spokesman of the Custody of the Holy Land

  Custody Main 


 

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Created / Updated Sunday, April 7, 2002 at 01:24:00 by John Abela ofm
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