Jewish Settlers Take over Palestinian Land near Bethlehem by Planting Trees in the Area

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Jewish settlers plant trees in Palestinian lands as a prelude to seizing the land. (Photo: File)


Jewish settlers today planted trees in a Palestinian-owned land in an area south of the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem in a prelude to taking it over, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.
Hasan Breijieh, director of the Bethlehem office of the Wall and Settlements Resistance Commission, told WAFA that a number of Jewish settlers planted olive trees in a land owned by Zeinab Abu Sneineh, in an area near the village of Irtas. This step is usually a prelude to seizing the land.
Breijieh said the Israeli army had previously seized land in the same area and considered it state-owned.
Meanwhile, Israeli army bulldozers razed land south of Bethlehem located between the illegal settlements of Migdal Oz and Ifrat, Breijieh added.
Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the West Bank and is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.
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“Jewish settler violence should not be analyzed separately from the violence meted out by the Israeli army, but seen within the larger context of the violent Zionist ideology that governs Israeli society entirely,” wrote Palestinian author and editor of The Palestine Chronicle, Ramzy Baroud.
“Settler violence has long since become part of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation,” according to the Human Rights Group B’tselem. “Israeli security forces enable these actions, which result in Palestinian casualties – injuries and fatalities – as well as damage to land and property. In some cases, they even serve as an armed escort, or even join in the attacks”.
Between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis live in Jewish-only settlements across occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank in violation of international law.

(Palestine Chronicle, WAFA, Social Media)

 Palestine news

The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestinian Christians that Nobody is Talking About

by RAMZY BAROUD

Photograph Source: View of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. Berthold Werner – CC BY-SA 3.0

Palestine’s Christian population is dwindling at an alarming rate. The world’s most ancient Christian community is moving elsewhere. And the reason for this is Israel.

Christian leaders from Palestine and South Africa sounded the alarm at a conference in Johannesburg on October 15. Their gathering was titled: “The Holy Land: A Palestinian Christian Perspective”.

One major issue that highlighted itself at the meetings is the rapidly declining number of Palestinian Christians in Palestine.

There are varied estimates on how many Palestinian Christians are still living in Palestine today, compared with the period before 1948 when the state of Israel was established atop Palestinian towns and villages. Regardless of the source of the various studies, there is near consensus that the number of Christian inhabitants of Palestine has dropped by nearly ten-fold in the last 70 years.

A population census carried out by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics in 2017 concluded that there are 47,000 Palestinian Christians living in Palestine – with reference to the Occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. 98 percent of Palestine’s Christians live in the West Bank – concentrated mostly in the cities of Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jerusalem – while the remainder, a tiny Christian community of merely 1,100 people, lives in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The demographic crisis that had afflicted the Christian community decades ago is now brewing.

For example, 70 years ago, Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, was 86 percent Christian. The demographics of the city, however, have fundamentally shifted, especially after the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in June 1967, and the construction of the illegal Israeli apartheid wall, starting in 2002. Parts of the wall were meant to cut off Bethlehem from Jerusalem and to isolate the former from the rest of the West Bank.

“The Wall encircles Bethlehem by continuing south of East Jerusalem in both the east and west,” the ‘Open Bethlehem’ organization said, describing the devastating impact of the wall on the Palestinian city. “With the land isolated by the Wall, annexed for settlements, and closed under various pretexts, only 13% of the Bethlehem district is available for Palestinian use.”

Increasingly beleaguered, Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem have been driven out from their historic city in large numbers. According to the city’s mayor, Vera Baboun, as of 2016, the Christian population of Bethlehem has dropped to 12 percent, merely 11,000 people.

The most optimistic estimates place the overall number of Palestinian Christians in the whole of Occupied Palestine at less than two percent.

The correlation between the shrinking Christian population in Palestine, and the Israeli occupation and apartheid should be unmistakable, as it is obvious to Palestine’s Christian and Muslim population alike.

A study conducted by Dar al-Kalima University in the West Bank town of Beit Jala and published in December 2017, interviewed nearly 1,000 Palestinians, half of them Christian and the other half Muslim. One of the main goals of the research was to understand the reason behind the depleting Christian population in Palestine.

The study concluded that “the pressure of Israeli occupation, ongoing constraints, discriminatory policies, arbitrary arrests, confiscation of lands added to the general sense of hopelessness among Palestinian Christians,” who are finding themselves in “a despairing situation where they can no longer perceive a future for their offspring or for themselves”.

Unfounded claims that Palestinian Christians are leaving because of religious tensions between them and their Muslim brethren are, therefore, irrelevant.

Gaza is another case in point. Only 2 percent of Palestine’s Christians live in the impoverished and besieged Gaza Strip. When Israel occupied Gaza along with the rest of historic Palestine in 1967, an estimated 2,300 Christians lived in the Strip. However, merely 1,100 Christians still live in Gaza today. Years of occupation, horrific wars and an unforgiving siege can do that to a community, whose historic roots date back to two millennia.

Like Gaza’s Muslims, these Christians are cut off from the rest of the world, including the holy sites in the West Bank. Every year, Gaza’s Christians apply for permits from the Israeli military to join Easter services in Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Last April, only 200 Christians were granted permits, but on the condition that they must be 55 years of age or older and that they are not allowed to visit Jerusalem.

The Israeli rights group, Gisha, described the Israeli army decision as “a further violation of Palestinians’ fundamental rights to freedom of movement, religious freedom and family life”, and, rightly, accused Israel of attempting to “deepen the separation” between Gaza and the West Bank.

In fact, Israel aims at doing more than that. Separating Palestinian Christians from one another, and from their holy sites (as is the case for Muslims, as well), the Israeli government hopes to weaken the socio-cultural and spiritual connections that give Palestinians their collective identity.

Israel’s strategy is predicated on the idea that a combination of factors – immense economic hardships, permanent siege and apartheid, the severing of communal and spiritual bonds – will eventually drive all Christians out of their Palestinian homeland.

Israel is keen to present the ‘conflict’ in Palestine as a religious one so that it could, in turn, brand itself as a beleaguered Jewish state in the midst of a massive Muslim population in the Middle East. The continued existence of Palestinian Christians does not factor nicely into this Israeli agenda.

Sadly, however, Israel has succeeded in misrepresenting the struggle in Palestine – from that of political and human rights struggle against settler colonialism – into a religious one. Equally disturbing, Israel’s most ardent supporters in the United States and elsewhere are religious Christians.

It must be understood that Palestinian Christians are neither aliens nor bystanders in Palestine. They have been victimized equally as their Muslim brethren, and have also played a major role in defining the modern Palestinian identity, through their resistance, spirituality, deep connection to the land, artistic contributions and burgeoning scholarship.

Israel must not be allowed to ostracize the world’s most ancient Christian community from their ancestral land so that it may score a few points in its deeply disturbing drive for racial supremacy.

Equally important, our understanding of the legendary Palestinian ‘soumoud’ – steadfastness – and of solidarity cannot be complete without fully appreciating the centrality of Palestinian Christians to the modern Palestinian narrative and identity.Join the debate on Facebook More articles by:RAMZY BAROUD

Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story (Pluto Press, London, 2018). He earned a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, UCSB.

VIDEO: Palestinian Christians Protest Patriarch Who Sold Church Land to Israel

January 7, 2018 4:27 AM 

 IMEMC News & Agencies

07 JAN 4:27 AM

Palestinian Christians from around the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Israel came out in harsh opposition, Saturday, to a visit by Greek Orthodox Church Patriarch of Jerusalem, Theophilos III, to the southern occupied West Bank city of Bethlehem.

Theophilos III, along with several other religious and political figures, were visiting Bethlehem as part of celebrations for Greek Orthodox Christmas Eve.

Despite an intense presence of Palestinian security forces who attempted to open roads near Bethlehem’s Manger Square, for the patriarch’s car, angry protesters swarmed around the procession, holding signs, Palestinian flags, and chanting slogans against Theophilus III.

According to Ma’an News Agency,  some people threw stones and smashed windows of the car that the patriarch was riding in as they demanded he be stripped of his titles and removed from the church.

Theophilos III is accused of orchestrating the sale of more than 500 dunams (123.5 acres) of Palestinian land belonging to the Arab Orthodox Church in Jerusalem to Israelis belonging to Zionist and settler groups.

The protest was not the first of its kind in Bethlehem — visits by Theophilus III to the biblical town have been boycotted in the past.

On Saturday, heads of the municipalities of Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour boycotted the reception, along with several religious organizations affiliated with the Greek Orthodox Church.

The church has been accused numerous times, over the years, of selling its leasing rights over land in Jerusalem to Jewish Israeli investors, with Israeli financial newspaper Calcalist revealing late last month that the Orthodox Patriarchate had sold the rights to 500 dunams, in August 2016, for 114 million shekels ($32 million), a move to be effective in 2050, when the Jewish National Fund’s lease of the land is set to expire.

Detractors have accused the patriarchate of contributing to Israeli plans to “Judaize” Jerusalem by selling or leasing off large amounts of land to Israeli authorities and business people, betraying the church’s responsibility to protect Palestinian lands that were handed under its care during the Ottoman period.

In 2015, a patriarchate spokesperson denied that the church was selling off lands in Jerusalem — a claim that did not convince many members of the faith, at the time.

Related story:

12/07/17 Bethlehem, Beit Jala, Beit Sahour Engage in “Christmas Blackout” to Protest US Jerusalem Decision

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Zionist Occupation Authorities to Tighten Control over Sanctities in Al-Quds

December 27, 2017

Al Quds

The Zionist occupation authorities plan to establish 16 police station in Al-Quds in order to tighten control over the Islamic and Christian sanctities in the holy city.

The Zionist plan includes also installing 40 surveillance cameras to be used by the occupation forces to monitor Bab Al-Amoud area in Al-Quds.

Source: Al-Manar Website

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IN PHOTOS: ISRAELI FORCES CLASH WITH PALESTINIAN SANTA CLAUSES ON CHRISTMAS EVE

South Front

24.12.2017

On December 24, Palestinians, many of them dressed as Santa Claus, staged a rally in the city of Bethlehem in the West Bank protesting against to the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s true capital.

Israeli forces used tear gas and stun grenades against the protesters near an Israeli military tower in Bethlehem. This rea is widely known as the traditional birthplace of Jesus Christ.

In Photos: Israeli Forces Clash With Palestinian Santa Clauses On Christmas Eve

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: Israeli Forces Clash With Palestinian Santa Clauses On Christmas Eve

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: Israeli Forces Clash With Palestinian Santa Clauses On Christmas Eve

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: Israeli Forces Clash With Palestinian Santa Clauses On Christmas Eve

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: Israeli Forces Clash With Palestinian Santa Clauses On Christmas Eve

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: Israeli Forces Clash With Palestinian Santa Clauses On Christmas Eve

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: Israeli Forces Clash With Palestinian Santa Clauses On Christmas Eve

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: Israeli Forces Clash With Palestinian Santa Clauses On Christmas Eve

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: Israeli Forces Clash With Palestinian Santa Clauses On Christmas Eve

Click to see the full-size image

In Photos: Israeli Forces Clash With Palestinian Santa Clauses On Christmas Eve

Click to see the full-size image

Merry Christmas Everyone, Joy to the world: Jesus is a celebrated prophet in Islam, too, peace be upon him

Joy to the world: Jesus is a celebrated prophet in Islam, too, peace be upon him

Joy to the world: Jesus is a celebrated prophet in Islam, too, peace be upon him

 Christmas in Bethlehem is a special time for all children – Muslim and Christian
In the interest of peace, Safdar Khwaja from CAIR reminds us that Muslims revere Jesus highly, and believe in the divine origin of the holy books of all three Abrahamic religions. She reminds us of the need to work together, for there is much to be done in our broken world.
At the end of the article, If Americans Knew offers you some photos of Christmastime in Bethlehem, where there is genuine interfaith peace.

by Safdar Khwaja, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Christmas season brings lights, cheer and charity across America and prayerful celebration of the Christian savior’s birth in churches across the world. Greeting cards proclaim “Joy to the World,” though people might wonder just how to spread joy.

Christian Americans also might wonder how non-Christians perceive the festive Christmas season — particularly Muslims, given all the controversy about them that’s been stirred up in recent election cycles.

It may come as a surprise to many people that Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh), recognized Jesus (pbuh) as the promised final leader for mankind. As recorded in multiple Hadith (sayings of the Prophet) ( Bukhari, Vol. 3, Book 34, No. 425 et seq.), “… Jesus (pbuh) son of Mary, will descend amongst you as a just ruler, kill the anti-christ, and abolish unfavorable practices. Money will become in abundance so that no one will accept it as charity.”

This significant Hadith is neither unique nor an isolated forecast in Islam. As the youngest of the three major Abrahamic faiths, Islam recognizes all of the revelations and commandments of a singular God (Eloh in Hebrew, Alah in Aramaic, Ilah in Arabic, Allah as “the-God” in Arabic), as a continuum of God’s messages. The Scrolls (Abraham, pbuh), Torah (Moses, pbuh), Psalms (David, pbuh), Gospels (Jesus, pbuh), and Quran (Muhammad, pbuh), are all recognized as of divine origin and included in the faith of Islam.

Quran 2:136: “Say: (Oh Believers) ‘We believe in God and in what was sent down to us and what was sent down to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and what was given to Moses, Jesus, and all the prophets by their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we devote ourselves to Him (God).’ “

Followers of these divine revelations are recognized as “People of the Book,” with marriages allowed among them, which has led “mixed” families over the centuries to develop close relationships.

Jesus is mentioned 25 times in the Quran in many contexts, including as a messenger of God, as the Messiah, as the “word” and “sign” of God, as endowed with healing miracles, as ascending into heaven, as promising to return.

The Quran mentions the virgin birth of Jesus many times. He is the only prophet who is mentioned along with his mother. The Quran’s chapter 19 is dedicated to Mary (Maryam), who holds a singularly exalted place in Islam, being the only woman named in the Quran. She is referred to 70 times in multiple chapters, and she explicitly is identified as the greatest of all women.

To Muslims in America, celebration of the life of Jesus and acts of charity during the Christmas season are very similar to their own traditions. The two major Muslim celebrations, or Eids, feature charity, prayers and festivities. They occur following the month of fasting (Ramadan) and at the commemoration of Abraham’s (pbuh) commitment to personal sacrifice. Celebrations such as Christmas and Eid are meant to renew the foundations of our beliefs.

Sadly, we see anxiety and suspicion between Christians and Muslims, which are politically inspired and cause us to overlook our shared heritage. If we were true to the teachings of our faiths, we would see that the values we collectively cherish are rooted in a common history. Such a realization could become the basis for cooperation, for friendship, for truly spreading “Joy to the World.”

Humanity has massive challenges to overcome; disease, poverty, hunger, ignorance, war, the list goes on. These challenges require a new paradigm of collaboration among people of all faiths, or no faith, from the local to the global level.

Interfaith dialogue is growing here in Pittsburgh, but participation remains sparse. In our “home of the brave,” we need more brave souls who are willing to listen to the narratives of people who are very different from themselves.

Here is my wish for this holy, festive season:

May our leaders be brave. May they employ their energies and talents toward bringing us together rather than driving us apart. May they help us solve the intractable problems we face by harnessing our common values and humanity. May this spirit of cooperation bring us joy.


Safdar Khwaja is president of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations, the largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

 

Palestinian Christians celebrate the lighting of a Christmas tree in Manger Square, outside the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015. Christmas Eve is a major event for the biblical town, drawing thousands of foreign tourists each year. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

 

Another view of Manger Square
A member of the Palestinian Authority security services patrols in front of the nativity scene in Manger Square
Greek Orthodox Liturgy in the Church of the Nativity


Bell tower in the background is the Church of the Nativity, built over the site traditionally believed to be where Christ was born
Santa is an equal-opportunity acceptor of donations.
Catholic clergymen outside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.
A Christian worshipper prays after lighting a candle on Christmas Eve at the Church of the Nativity, built atop the site where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, in the West Bank

Palestinian Christians Send Open Letter to World Council of Churches

Posted on June 16, 2017

Palestinian Christians have published an open letter to the World Council of Churches asking that the international ecumenical body recognize Israel as an apartheid state.

“As we meet this month in Bethlehem in occupied Palestine, we are still suffering from 100 years of injustice and oppression that were inflicted on the Palestinian people beginning with the unjust and unlawful Balfour declaration,” the letter begins.

The document makes no specific reference to Christian Zionism, but it does assert that Palestinians are suffering “because of one political declaration from a Western empire, based on a twisted theological premise,” and calls upon the WCC to “take the strongest theological stand against any theology or Christian group that justifies the occupation and privileges one nation over the other based on ethnicity or a covenant.”

The phrase “twisted theological premise” is a pretty good way of characterizing Christian Zionism, and I probably couldn’t have come up with a better descriptor myself.

Additionally, the letter makes reference to two other documents, one of them being the Amaan Call, issued by the WCC ten years ago following a meeting held in Amaan, Jordan. The other document mentioned is the Kairos Palestine document, a letter signed by Palestinian Christians and published in 2009.

This latest letter urges Christians of conscience not to “hide behind the cover of political neutrality,” and also calls upon the WCC support the BDS movement.

The WCC is scheduled to hold a meeting next week in Bethlehem.

The Friends of Sabeel of North America is calling upon members of the public to sign onto the letter. I reproduce the letter in full below. You can go here to sign onto it.

***

 

Letter from Palestinian Christians to the World Council of Churches

Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. (Isa. 1:17)

Background

As we meet this month in Bethlehem in occupied Palestine, we are still suffering from 100 years of injustice and oppression that were inflicted on the Palestinian people beginning with the unjust and unlawful Balfour declaration. The injustice was intensified through the Nakba and the influx of refugees, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank including East Jerusalem and Gaza, the fragmentation of our people and land through policies of isolation and confiscation of property, and the building of Jewish-only settlements and the apartheid wall.

We are still suffering because of one political declaration from a Western empire, based on a twisted theological premise. Even some churches and Christian leaders supported the establishment of the colonial state in our land, and totally ignored—even dehumanized—the nation, our people who had already existed here for centuries and paid the price for atrocities committed in Europe.

Hundred years later, with thousands of lives lost, towns and villages razed from the face of the earth (though not our memory), millions of refugees, thousands of homes demolished, and continued incarceration of prisoners, our Nakba continues.

A hundred years later and there is still no justice in our land! Discrimination and inequality, military occupation and systematic oppression are the rule. Today, we stand in front of an impasse and we have reached a deadlock. Despite all the promises, endless summits, UN resolutions, religious and lay leaders’ callings, Palestinians are still yearning for their freedom and independence, and seeking justice and equality. Humanly speaking, we have reached the “moment of impossible,” as Emeritus Latin Patriarch Sabbah said recently.

Could it be that we have reached this “impossible moment” because things were built from the very beginning—a hundred years ago—on an unjust premise? Should we expect that such an unjust declaration will create anything but strife and destruction?

Today is also an opportunity to remember the 10-year-old Amman Call. We are thankful to those who stood with us back then in costly solidarity—those who stood for truth and justice. We are also concerned that 10 years later the situation is still deteriorating. Like other initiatives advocating end of occupation, the Amman Call did not achieve its goals in building and achieving just peace. We must ask ourselves today why that is.

We are also concerned by Israel’s systemic assault on Palestinian creative resistance, and on our partners worldwide who use this method to pressure Israel to end the occupation. Many new laws were issued in Israel and around the world to oppose this creative non-violent resistance unlawfully, and to stop all effort toward peace. Not only is this an attack on the freedom of conscience and speech but it is also an assault on our right and duty to resist evil with good. Israel is even now trying to prevent pilgrims from visiting Bethlehem, the city of Emmanuel!

While we are grateful for the ‘costly solidarity’ articulated in the Amman Call and exercised by many churches around the world, we are concerned that some churches have weakened their positions in the last 10 years as a result of Israeli pressure. Many still hide behind the cover of political neutrality, not wishing to offend their partners in religious dialogue.

Finally, we meet in an environment of religious wars and persecution in our region. Religious extremism is on the rise, and religious minorities have paid a painful price. We thank you for your efforts toward the refugees and toward ending the conflicts in our region. We also thank you for your support of persecuted Christians in places like Iraq and Syria.

Our Call

“God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they will be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness (Justice), for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”. (Matthew 5:10-11)

As we stand in front of this “impossible moment,” it gives us no pleasure to say that “we told you so” eight years ago when we declared the moment as a Kairos moment! We stand facing the impossible, but we have not lost hope, since as followers of the Risen One, we are the people of hope. However, we need you and we need you now more than ever. We need your costly solidarity. We need brave women and men who are willing to stand in the forefront. This is no time for shallow diplomacy Christians. We urge you to hear our call and adopt the following:

1. That you call things as they are: recognize Israel as an apartheid state in terms of international law and in agreement of what a person like Desmond Tutu said and as the UN ESCWA report said: “Israel is guilty of imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people.. We are disturbed by the fact that states and churches are dealing with Israel as if the situation were normal, ignoring the reality of occupation, discrimination, and daily death in the land. Just as churches united to end apartheid in South Africa and whereby the WCC played a courageous and pivotal prophetic and leadership role, we expect you to do the same!

2. That you unequivocally condemn the Balfour declaration as unjust, and that you demand from the UK that it asks forgiveness from the Palestinian people and compensates for the losses. We ask that churches and Christians support the Palestinians in their request for justice.

3. That you take the strongest theological stand against any theology or Christian group that justifies the occupation and privileges one nation over the other based on ethnicity or a covenant. We ask that you adopt and live the theology suggested by Kairos Palestine and that you organize conferences to bring awareness toward this end.

4. That you take a stand against religious extremism and against any attempt to create a religious state in our land or region. We ask that you support us in combating the foundations of extremism and that you seek our council when acting against religious extremism so that you do not jeopardize and harm our standing here.

5. That you revisit and challenge your religious dialogue partners, and that you are willing to even withdraw from the partnership if needed, if the occupation and injustices in Palestine and Israel are not challenged.

6. That you lead campaigns for church leaders and pilgrims to visit Bethlehem and other Palestinian cities on this side of the wall in cooperation with Palestinian tourist and pilgrimage agencies, in response to recent attempts by Israel. We ask that you publicly challenge any attempt by Israel or other Christians that discourage pilgrims from visiting Palestinian places.

7. That you defend our right and duty to resist the occupation creatively and non-violently. We ask that you speak in support of economic measures that pressure Israel to stop the occupation and that you support atheltic, cultural, and academic measures against Israel until it complies with international law and UN resolutions urging the ending of its occupation, apartheid, and discrimination, and accepts refugees to return to their homeland. This is our last peaceful resort. In response to Israel’s war on BDS, we ask that you intensify that measure.

8. That you create lobby groups in defense of Palestinian Christians. We ask that you publicly and legally challenge Christian organizations that discredit our work and legitimacy.

9. We therefore propose as a matter of the greatest urgency that you create a strategic program within WCC similar to the program “To Combat Racism” to lead efforts to lobby, advocate, and develop active programs toward justice and peace in Palestine and Israel and maintain the presence of the Palestinian Christians through supporting their organizations, church work, and peaceful efforts.

As faithful witnesses, we acknowledge, affirm, and continue the long-standing prophetic tradition, especially the one started by the Amman Call and articulated in the Kairos Palestine document. We fully grasp the pressure church leaders are facing here and abroad not to speak the truth, and it is because of this that we are raising this call.

Things are beyond urgent. We are on the verge of a catastrophic collapse. The current status quo is unsustainable. This could be our last chance to achieve a just peace. As a Palestinian Christian community, this could be our last opportunity to save the Christian presence in this land. Our only hope as Christians comes from the fact that in Jerusalem, the city of God, and our city, there is an empty tomb, and Jesus Christ who triumphed over death and sin brought to us and to all humanity, new life.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. (2 Cor. 4:8-9)

12 June 2017

Signed By:

Jerusalem
Arab Catholic Scouts Group
Arab Orthodox Society, Jerusalem
Caritas, Jerusalem
Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees—Middle East Council of Churches
Greek Catholic Sayedat AlBishara Association
International Christian Committee
Laity Committee in the Holy Land
National Christian Association
Pontifical Mission Palestine
Sabeel—Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center
Seeds of Better life
Union of Arab Orthodox Club, Jerusalem
Young Men’s Christian Association—YMCA
Young Women’s Christian Association—YWCA

 

Gaza
NECC office

 

Bethlehem (NCOB) Network of Christian Organizations in Bethlehem
The East Jerusalem YMCA—Beit Sahour Branch
The Arab Educational Institute
Holy Land Trust, Bethlehem
Wi’am Center, Bethlehem
Saint Afram Assyrian Society
Holy Land Christians Ecumenical Foundation, Bethlehem
Joint Advocacy Initiative (JAI)
Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Sahour
Arab Orthodox Club, Beit Jala
Arab Orthodox Club, Bethlehem
The Arab Orthodox Charitable Society, Beit Sahour
Bethlehem Bible College
Siraj Center for Holy Land Studies
Alternative Tourism Group, ATG, Beit Sahour
Senior Citizen Charitable Society
Environmental educational Center, Beit Jala
Saint Vincent Charitable Society, Beit Jala
Shepherds’ Children Society, Beit Sahour
Kairos Palestine

 

Click here to add your signature to the letter

Trump Visits Bethlehem Bearing Gifts to Child Killers

Finian Cunningham

May 20, 2017

US President Donald Trump makes his first overseas visit this weekend, beginning in the Middle East and continuing to Europe. His tour to the “holy land” is being presented with feel-good, messianic spin.

Trump touches down first in Saudi Arabia, then will go Israel and from there make a pilgrimage to Bethlehem in the Palestinian territories. After his stop at the reputed birthplace of Jesus, the American president will then fly to the Vatican, where he will be greeted by Roman Catholic Pope Francis. He will later meet NATO military leaders in Brussels.

resenting the president’s Middle East itinerary like a momentous religious event, Trump’s senior national security adviser General HR McMaster said:

“This trip is truly historic. No president has ever visited the homelands and holy sites of the Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths all on the same trip. And what President Trump is seeking is to unite peoples of all faiths around a common vision of peace, progress and prosperity.”

The White House, reported the Washington Post, described it as “an effort to unite three of the world’s leading religious faiths in the common cause of fighting terrorism, reining in Iran and unifying the world against intolerance.”

Hold it. Screech the brakes on this Hollywood-type script of Saint Donald saving the world. What utter claptrap.

The main purpose of his sojourn is to cut a record arms deal with Saudi Arabia and the other closely aligned Gulf Arab monarchies. While in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, addressing regional leaders about “world peace,” Trump is set to sign off weapons deals worth $350 billion. That’s more than double what his predecessor Barack Obama flogged to the Saudi rulers during his presidency.

According to Bloomberg, topping the list of US arms transfers are warships, helicopter gunships, anti-missile systems and tanks.

The THAAD anti-missile system, recently debuted in South Korea, is said to be among the inventory for the Saudis and other Gulf states to the tune of $10 billion. The crisis in Korea provides a convenient sales pitch to the Saudis. Maybe that’s partly why the Trump administration has dangerously provoked the tensions in Asia, precisely to push through their THAAD sales in the Middle East.

In addition to the weapons purchases, the Saudi rulers are also promising to invest $40 billion from their oil-rich sovereign wealth funds in American companies.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and personal adviser, has been instrumental in lining up the mega sales, in conjunction with the Saudi deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman. The 30-year-old son of King Salman, who is also the defense minister, has been courting the Trump presidency ever since the election last November.

The Saudi prince, known as MBS by the Trump inner circle, is the chief strategist behind the Saudi war on Yemen since March 2015. That war is a blatant aggression on Yemen carried out by Saudi forces supplied by the US and Britain. Thousands of children have been killed in Saudi air strikes, using internationally banned cluster bombs in indiscriminate attacks on civilian centers.

Just days before Trump’s departure to the Middle East, Saudi air strikes reportedly killed 23 civilians, including six children, near the southern Yemeni city of Taiz.

Millions of other Yemeni children are dying from starvation and preventable diseases like cholera because of a naval blockade imposed on the country by Saudi and American forces. No doubt the new warships that Trump is lining up for Saudi Arabia will add to the “efficacy” of the genocide that is underway in Yemen.

With staggering cynicism, the Trump administration is “justifying” this ramped-up military support for Saudi Arabia as an effort to “fight terrorism” and to “counter Iranian meddling” in the region.

It is alleged that Iran is sponsoring militia in Yemen, Syria and Iraq and this is posing a threat to regional stability. Such claims are an insult to common intelligence, when we know that it is the American CIA and their Saudi client regime who have bankrolled and directed terrorism across the entire Middle East over many years in order to serve hegemonic interests of regime change.

But what is disturbing is just how braindead the Trump administration is. Trump is recklessly promoting the ridiculous fantasy that Saudi Arabia and its despotic terror-sponsoring clients are somehow the custodians of law and order. He is also pumping up the surreal Saudi narrative that Iran is largely responsible for the Middle East’s conflicts.

When the American president addresses Saudi and other Muslim leaders in Riyadh this weekend supposedly on the challenges of finding regional peace, two nations are banned from the gathering – Iran and Syria.

Saudi rulers have recently threatened Iran with fomenting a Syria-style proxy war inside Iran. The record arsenal of weapons that Trump is bringing to Saudi Arabia will only embolden its House of Saud tinpot dictators to pursue even more confrontation with Iran. Much of the small-arms weaponry that the Americans supply to Saudi Arabia already ends up in the hands of terror groups like Jabhat al Nusra and Daesh (so-called Islamic State).

There are perplexing signs that the US under Trump is ratcheting up military aggression toward Iran and its ally Syria. This week, US warplanes reportedly attacked Syrian armed forces and Iranian allies Hezbollah in southern Syria. It was the second such direct assault on Syria after Trump ordered Tomahawk missile strikes on the Shayrat airbase in April.

Syrian sources claim that the latest US air strike was carried out to protect militants being trained by American special forces inside Syrian territory. Those militants, known as Maghaweer al Thawra, are part of the Al Qaeda terror network, according to independent journalist Vanessa Beeley in email correspondence with this author.

Seems more than coincidence that the latest US operation was timed with Trump’s departure for Saudi Arabia. This is the kind of military action that the Saudis were constantly pushing the Obama administration to carry out. The strike on Iranian interests too will no doubt endear the new US commander-in-chief even more to his Saudi clients.

Trump’s messianic zeal to visit the Middle East – his first foreign destination being the dubious human rights “haven” Saudi Arabia – is all about flogging ever more deadly weapons to the already explosively-charged region. So desperate is Trump to pimp billions of dollars that he is willing to fuel war with Iran and perhaps Syria’s other ally, Russia, in the pursuit of lucre.

And to add further insult to injury, the whole tour of the “holy land” is being sold by the American government and media as some kind of benevolent religious duty to mankind and world peace.

The only “gifts” that Trump is bringing to Bethlehem and the region are ever more monstrous ways to murder children.

If Pope Francis had any integrity, or even news savvy, he should cancel Trump’s call at the Vatican, and explain exactly that child-killing regimes are not welcome.

Source: Sputnik

Interview with Filmmaker Leila Sansour

Last month I put up a post on the film “Open Bethlehem,” and specifically I linked to a podcast discussion about the documentary that was posted by the folks at We Hold These Truths. Directed by Leila Sansour, the film deals with the apartheid wall now encircling the birthplace of Jesus and its impact upon the people who live there.

Sansour, who is a native of Bethlehem and whose father was a founder of Bethlehem University, was recently interviewed over BBC radio. In the interview she discusses why she left Bethlehem in her teen years and why she returned there to make the film she did.

If you would like to watch the full documentary, it is available here for a $4.50 charge. Below is a two-minute trailer.

 

You can also visit the Open Bethlehem website as well as Peace in Our Name.

‘Open Bethlehem’–Podcast Discussion on Palestinian Film

Recently the good folks at We Hold These Truths uploaded a podcast featuring a discussion on the film, “Open Bethlehem.” That’s the trailer of the film you see above. The description of the podcast is below:

Victories for the struggle for peace and justice for Palestinians come slowly, but are coming more frequently. We discuss the inspiring documentary Open, Bethlehem by Palestinian filmmaker, Leila Sansour. and her Bethlehem passport project designed to put wings to her film. We also talk about a recent, major victory in Boulder, Colorado where a resolution to make the Palestinian city of Nablus a sister city to Boulder was passed by the city council over strong opposition from vocal, local Zionists.

You can go here to access the full podcast. And you can also go here to visit the “Open Bethlehem” website and here to apply for your own Bethlehem passport. Should you be issued a passport, you will automatically become eligible to become an official ambassador of the holy city where Jesus was born. Here is a picture of former President Jimmy Carter being issued his own passport:

 photo jcbethpssport_zps0wx4ipjw.jpg

The passport reads as follows:

“In that the bearer of this passport is a citizen of Bethlehem; that they recognize this ancient city provides a light to the world, and to all people who uphold the values of a just and open society; that they will remain a true friend to Bethlehem through its imprisonment, and that they will strive to keep the ideals of Bethlehem alive as long as the wall stands; we ask you to respect the bearer of the passport and to let them pass freely.”

Bethlehem Christmas

DEC. 24, 2016 9:26 P.M

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — Palestinians marked the occasion of Christmas Eve on Saturday morning in the southern occupied West Bank town of Bethlehem, which is traditionally held as the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

 A parade lead by the Latin Patriarch of Palestine, Jordan, and the Holy Land Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, who is also the Apostolic Administrator of the Latin Patriarchate in Jerusalem, are set to arrive in Bethlehem in the afternoon and will be officially received at the Nativity Church in Bethlehem’s Manger Square.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah are also expected to arrive in Bethlehem later Saturday to partake in Midnight Mass.
Abbas released a statement Friday marking the occasion of Christmas, saying that “Despite the Israeli occupation, our presence in our homeland and the preservation of our cultural and national heritage are the most important form of resistance in the face of the darkness of a foreign colonialist occupying power.”
He described Christmas as “a Palestinian call for hope and justice,” which is “a unique message that we have been carrying generation after generation, as a precious treasure that began in Palestine and is celebrated all over the world.”
“We are about to mark 50 years of Israeli occupation, the longest military occupation in modern history,” he wrote in his statement, highlighting that despite Bethlehem’s religious and historical significance, the town “has not been spared the brutality exercised by decades of humiliation, colonization and Apartheid.”
“Jesus’ place of birth is a city now surrounded by 18 illegal Israeli settlements and divided by the illegal Annexation Wall, including the latest illegal Israeli steps to construct the Wall at the Cremisan Valley.”
“Israeli occupation policies have cut Bethlehem’s connection with Jerusalem, both an integral part of the occupied State of Palestine, for the first time in 2000 years of Christianity.”
He affirmed that the state of Palestine would continue to preserve its national heritage as well as “the historic status quo of all religious sites, including the Holy Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound” in occupied East Jerusalem.
He lauded the commitment of Palestinian Muslims and Christians to coexist peacefully throughout the centuries, and condemned “failed attempts” to divide them that he said “originate from those with a racist and colonialist mindset,” referring specifically to a recent law proposed by Israel to mute the Muslim call to prayer.
Abbas addressed all Palestinians in his message, “particularly our refugees in Syria and Lebanon, including al-Dbayeh and Mar Elia refugee camps, as well as those who will celebrate Christmas in Gaza and in our occupied capital Jerusalem.”“I salute our prisoners,” he added.
“The message of hope, the message of justice and peace brought by Jesus from a humble Grotto in Bethlehem shall prevail over the darkness of exile, colonization, unlawful imprisonment, and Apartheid.”

O Come All Ye Faithful

“Come and behold Him born the King of angels;
O come let us adore Him Christ the Lord”

Occupied Palestine: Hundreds of Children Participate in ‘Bethlehem Heart of Christmas’

bethchild1

Christians in US, Occupied Palestine, Hold Joint Worship Service

[ Ed. note – It’s always nice to see Christians in America reaching out to their Christian brothers and sisters in Palestine. That’s what took place today as the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. and the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem held a live-stream simulcast. The “Bethlehem Prayer Service,” as it was called, began at 5 p.m. Bethlehem time and at 10 a.m. Washington time.

Meanwhile, as you’ll see from the article below, hundreds of children, both Christians and Muslims, have been bussed into Bethlehem from all over Palestine to visit the city’s renowned holy sites. Their activities have included visits to Manger Square as well as the Church of the Nativity. ]

***

Hundreds of Children Arrive in Bethlehem for ‘Bethlehem Heart of Christmas

IMEMC

On Friday, December 16th, 350 children from around Palestine visited Bethlehem’s holy sites to learn first-hand about Palestine’s living Christian heritage. The event was part of the Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation’s 12th Annual “Journey to Bethlehem.” For the majority of these children, this represents the first time they have ever set foot in these holy places. Children came from schools and orphanages around Zababdeh, Jenin, Tulkarem, Jericho, and Birzeit.

During their journey, the children received educational tours of Shepherds Field, the Church of the Nativity, the Milk Grotto, and Bethlehem Museum, where they learned about the role that everyday Palestinians have played in preserving Christianity in the Holy Land. After visiting the sites, the children reflected on their favorite things:

“We loved visiting the Church of the Nativity! We saw the priests give mass for the first time ever. It was really cool!” – Alisa, 8 years, Jericho

“We enjoyed the museum, especially seeing the solidarity cross because the word ‘peace’ was written on it. We hope that there will be peace for us soon.” – Dala, 8 years, Jericho

“I loved the Christmas tree because its was so beautiful! I loved seeing Bethlehem!” – Hala, 12 years, Jenin

“Today I learned a lot, that we should love each other and pray for others.” – Zaed, 9 years, Birzeit

After their tour, the children joined in with local families to participate in a Christmas celebration at Catholic Action Community Center, where they enjoyed face painting, games, and treats followed by an interactive Christmas play. After receiving a gift from Santa, the group of 400 strong processed down Star Street to Manger Square—down the very path that Christians believe the Holy Family took over 2000 years ago! The procession was met with fanfare, as community members lined the streets, enjoying the singing and laughter of the children.

According to organizers, the procession commemorates Jesus’ call to “follow the children, ” and serves as an important reminder to the community that our children are our future, and that it is our responsibility to educate them about their history, heritage and identity.

The event was sponsored by World Vision International, Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies, Caritas Jerusalem, and by individuals from around the world who donated through HCEF’s 2016 Giving Tuesday campaign.

The Regional Director of Holy Land Christian Ecumenical Foundation, Anthony Habash, said the procession carried the message of peace and hope to the entire world, and delivers a message that the children of Palestine, just like all other children, deserve to live in dignity, justice and peace.

Palestinians light the second Christmas Tree in Occupied Jerusalem

 He added that the children in this procession, who came from different parts of the West Bank, are Christians and Muslims, and delivered a message or brotherhood and peace, the message of Christmas in the holy city of Bethlehem.

Habash expressed his hope that such activities will build help break in restrictions and barriers imposed by the Israeli occupation army in Palestine.

For his part, Kayed Boulos, vice-president of Terra Sancta School in Jericho, said he came to Bethlehem in a procession of peace, to introduce the children to the birthplace of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, and to introduce them to its historic and religious importance.

Samer Sharqawi, the head of Ta’ayush grassroots movement, said the visit and this activity aims at introducing the children of Palestine to Bethlehem, and its significance.

Sharqawi added that Palestine is the land of coexistence and dialogue, and sets an historic example of love and brotherhood, and that the children, who came from Tulkarem, Jenin, Jericho, Nablus and Bethlehem, got this great opportunity to learn about Bethlehem, and to learn about all holy sites in their homeland.

Sister Mariam Ba’abish of the Rosemary School said there are many children who do not know the importance of all holy sites in Palestine, and that this activity was a great opportunity for them to meet and learn.

***

[ Ed. note – Below is a video of the joint worship service live-streamed earlier today. You can click here for a program guide in PDF format. The service includes music as well as prayers, readings, and scriptural lessons in both English and Arabic. I strongly urge you to access the program guide as it provides English translations to the Arabic portions of the service. All in all a very wonderful and uplifting service.

Another thing worth mentioning is that this is a service that has been held on an annual basis for several years now:

In 2006, a group gathered in concern for the deteriorating situation in Palestine and Israel. It was a few months before Christmas, and thoughts turned to Bethlehem and the present-day wall around the city. What if the Christmas events took place today? Would Mary and Joseph be able to cross into Bethlehem on their journey from Nazareth? The 30-foot wall that separates Bethlehem from Jerusalem would block the way. Perhaps Mary would give birth while waiting to cross through a checkpoint, as happens for some Palestinian women today on their way to the hospital. Recognizing that most Americans do not know about the realities of Palestinian life, the Ad Hoc Committee for Bethlehem was formed to raise awareness.

This committee then sponsored events to lift up the need for justice and peace in Bethlehem and throughout the land, and to remind the faithful of the calling to be peacemakers. This service is an outcome of their work.

Today, a concrete wall not only separates the West Bank from Israel: it cuts through Palestinian land, separating farmers from fields and effectively annexing their land. Israeli roads and settlements in the region further segment Palestinian communities. Many Palestinians who have the means have left the Holy Land in search of a better life elsewhere. The Christian population of Bethlehem has declined from a majority several decades ago to about fifteen percent today. The presence of Christians throughout the Holy Land has dwindled to less than two percent.

The current situation in Bethlehem is of concern to Christians around the world who seek to follow the Prince of Peace in building bridges that connect rather than walls that divide. Today we turn our hearts to the one God who loves all equally, and pray that a new day will dawn for us, for Palestinians, and for Israelis.

It’s kind of surprising to see a statement like the above coming from a cathedral in the heart of Washington, but indeed such is the case. The Washington National Cathedral, formally known as The Cathedral Church of St. Peter and St. Paul in the City and Diocese of Washington, is an Episcopal cathedral. Let’s wish them well in their continued solidarity with the Christians of Palestine. ]

Christmas Tree Lighting in Bethlehem–Ceremony Attended by Thousands

UNESCO: ‘No Jewish history in Jerusalem’

Apr 20, 2016

UNESCO also decided that Al-Khalil and Bethlehem are integral parts of Palestine

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Association (UNESCO) announced on Friday a number of resolutions regarding Israeli occupation of historical Palestinian cities.
In addition, the resolution affirms that Al-Khalil, the birthplace for Abraham, and Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, “are an integral part of Palestine.”

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Association (UNESCO) announced on Friday a number of resolutions regarding Israeli occupation of historical Palestinian cities.

One of the resolutions was entitled “Occupied Palestine” and addressed Jerusalem Old City’s mosque, which is an Islamic site and Muslims call it Al-Haram Al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) or Al-Aqsa Mosque and Jews refer to as the Temple Mount.

In the context of Jerusalem’s Old City, the document referred to Israel as “the occupying power” and referred to the site as Al-Aqsa Mosque.

UNESCO decided that the name of this holy place is Al-Aqsa Mosque and said that Jews have no connection to it. It did not recognise the Jewish name for the place as Temple Mount.

The resolution also condemned Israel for “planting fake Jewish graves in other spaces of the Muslim cemeteries” and for “the continued conversion of many Islamic and Byzantine remains into the so-called Jewish ritual baths or into Jewish prayer places.”

Among the states supporting the decision were Argentina, France, Spain, Slovenia, Sweden, India and Russia, several of which enjoys ostensibly warm relations Israel.

In addition, the resolution affirms that Al-Khalil, the birthplace for Abraham, and Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ, “are an integral part of Palestine.”

Referencing “ongoing Israeli illegal excavations, works, construction of private roads for illegal settlers and a separation wall inside the Old City of Al-Khalil, that harmfully affect the integrity of the site, and the subsequent denial of freedom of movement and freedom of access to places of worship,” UNESCO also urged “Israel, the occupying power, to end these violations in compliance with provisions of relevant UNESCO conventions, resolutions and decisions.”

Palestine news

 

 

In Observance of Israeli Apartheid Week

aparsystpalestine

Israeli Apartheid Week is being observed in a number of different countries this week, including South Africa…

From the Israeli Apartheid Week South Africa website

Press Statement: Palestinian Christians Call on South African Churches to Support #IsraeliApartheidWeek

Writing from the Holy Town of Bethlehem, the Palestinian Christian organization Kairos Palestine, has called on South African Churches to participate and support this year’s #IsraeliApartheidWeek. Their letter reads to the SA Churches and members of the Christian community reads:

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,
 
“[W]e write from Palestine to express our thanks and appreciation for your solidarity; the solidarity of all South Africans with our people, our struggle, and our quest for liberation and freedom. With great appreciation we turn to South Africa and its preparation for the Israeli Apartheid Week from 7th – 13th of March 2016. Today, such events are more important than ever, because of the increase in discrimination, violence and apartheid imposed on us Palestinians who have suffered Israeli occupation for almost 50 years now.”
 
“We, Palestinian Christians, call upon you, head of churches, church communities and brothers and sisters in faith in South Africa to campaign and advocate for greater awareness of the Palestinian struggle in general and the plight of Palestinian Christians in particular. We ask you to dedicate Sunday services during that week to pray for and reflect on the plight of your Palestinian fellows who have suffered under apartheid for decades…”
 
“The voices of Palestinian Christians have been drowned out in the turmoil of events; the Western narrative about the ‘Promised Land’ dominates theological discourses in Palestine/Israel and justifies injustices towards Palestinians. As active, responsible, and believing Christians, it is time to review Christian theology and promote a true, Christian way of resisting injustice and work for a just peace – in the Middle East and in the world.We wish you a successful week, full of hope and faith and led by the most essential Christian value of Love. Our prayers are with you during this important event.” (Click here to read the full letter).

 

In an attempt to highlight the plight of Palestinian Christians living under Israeli Apartheid, this year, the official movie which will screened in various South African cities and towns as part of #IsraeliApartheidWeek is “The Stones Cry Out”. The movie documents the plight of the Palestinian Christian community (click here for a trailer, or email southafrica.iaw@gmail.com for a free copy).
In the past various South African Church leaders have lent their support to the #IsraeliApartheidWeek (click here).
—————————————-
#IsraeliApartheidWeek (IAW) is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, music shows, films and workshops) that raises awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies, violations of international law and human rights abuses toward the indigenous Palestinian people. It is endorsed in South Africa by over 85 organizations including our ruling party, the ANC, and takes place in over 250 cities across the world.
Members of the media are invited to an interfaith press conference today (Sunday, 6 March 2016) at Freedom Park Museum (Corner Koch & 7th Avenue, Pretoria starting at 11am). The press conference will launch the South African leg of the annual international #IsraeliApartheidWeek awareness-raising campaign taking place in SA between 7 and 13 March. Speakers at the press conference will include representatives and leaders from the Hindu, Jewish, Tamil, Christian, Muslim and other communities.

Slingshots & Stones: Palestinians clash with IDF in Bethlehem

70 Palestinians Injured in West Bank Clashes with Zionist Occupation Forces

Local Editor

The Israeli occupation forces on Wednesday shot and injured at least 70 Palestinians in Tulkarem, Bethlehem and Ramallah, according to the Palestinian ministry of public health.

In Ramallah’s al-Bireh city, Israeli occupation forces shot and injured more than 50 Palestinian youths with live fire and rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes in the al-Balou area in northern al-Bireh.

One protester, shot in the chest with live fire, is in a critical condition. Medical sources said that the youth underwent surgery in the Ramallah Governmental Hospital where his condition was reported as “very critical.”

Other injuries were reported as light to moderate, with medics and journalists also injured during the clashes.

Sources added that Israeli occupation forces used silencers when shooting off live fire at the protesters.

In Qalandiya refugee camp in Ramallah, Israeli occupation forces shot and injured at least 13 Palestinians with live fire, residents and medics said.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health told Ma’an that the injured were transferred to the Palestinian Medical Complex in Ramallah.

In Bethlehem, south of Ramallah, two Palestinians were injured with rubber-coated steel bullets and dozens of others suffered from severe tear-gas inhalation during clashes with Israeli occupation forces near the city’s northern entrance.

Source: Agencies

11-11-2015 – 20:48 Last updated 11-11-2015 – 20:48

 

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Palestinian Woman Stabs Israeli Soldier at Bethlehem Checkpoint

 BY NEWS DESK ON JUNE 30, 2015

 emergency_servicemen

 A Palestinian woman stabbed a female Israeli soldier in the neck at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and West Bank city of Bethlehem on Monday, according to Israeli security forces.

The Palestinian had arrived at the checkpoint, which has separate lines for men and women, and “pulled out a knife and stabbed a military policewoman,” a police statement said.

The Israeli Defense Forces emergency medical service Magen David Adom said the soldier was in moderate condition.

The reported stabbing is the most recent in a spate of attacks by Palestinians on Israel’s military in the Palestinian territories.

On June 21, a Palestinian stabbed and seriously wounded an Israeli border policeman at Damascus Gate outside East Jerusalem’s Old City before the officer shot the Palestinian, critically injuring him.

On Friday Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian at a checkpoint in the Jordan Valley who they alleged was attempting to attack them.

AFP

 

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Israeli forces violently disperse peaceful Christmas march in Bethlehem

A Palestinian man dressed up as Santa Claus distributes Christmas trees along the wall of Jerusalem's Old City, on December 22, 2014, as Christians around the world prepare to celebrate the holy day. AFP / Ahmad Gharabli

Published Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) Tuesday violently dispersed a peaceful march calling for “Christmas without occupation” in Bethlehem.

Demonstrators marched to the Israeli military checkpoint in northern Bethlehem to celebrate Christmas and hand out gifts to children in the area.

IOF prevented the demonstrators, some of whom were dressed as Santa Claus, from reaching the checkpoint and fired tear gas at the crowd.

Photo taken from Ma’an news agency

Several people were treated at the scene for tear gas inhalation.

Mazen al-Azza, an activist with the Palestinian National Initiative, told Ma’an news agency that the march had a peaceful Christmas message, but “Israeli soldiers did not miss the chance to suppress it by assaulting journalists and peaceful demonstrators.”

Photo taken from Ma’an news agency

Israel announced earlier this week that several restrictive measures were to be taken to permit the movement of Palestinian Christians during the Christmas holiday season.

Israeli Coordinator of Government Activities in the [Occupied] Territories Yoav Mordechai said several measures are to be implemented until January 19, when the final Christmas date celebrated in Palestine – Armenian-Palestinian Christmas – will bring the season to a close.

Mordechai said that Palestinian Christians living in the West Bank will be given long-term permits for travel into Occupied Palestine during the holiday season, although no specific number was announced.

He also said that 700 Palestinian Christians from the Gaza Strip, either younger than 16 or older than 35, will be allowed into Occupied Palestine and the West Bank.

500 Palestinian Christians from the West Bank will also be allowed to visit immediate family in the Gaza Strip, while 200 others will be given permits to travel through Ben Gurion airport, which is normally restricted for Palestinians.

According to CIA statistics, 123,000 Palestinian Christians live in Occupied Palestine, and another 226,000 reside in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israeli forces maintain severe restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement between the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Occupied Palestine through a complex system of permits.

The discriminatory system has turned Gaza into an open-air prison with over 1.8 million Palestinians rarely given permits to leave the besieged strip.

Gazan Christians are sometimes granted heavily-restricted religious permits.

Similarly, Palestinians in the occupied West Bank are not allowed to visit Occupied Palestine except during religious holidays.

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship are able to travel across the Israeli occupied territories as well as the West Bank but not into Gaza, while Palestinian refugees who do not fall under Israeli rule are almost completely denied access to Occupied Palestine and the West Bank but can, theoretically due to the siege, enter Gaza.

Moreover, even Palestinian movement within the West Bank is regulated through a racist system which includes a complex combination of fixed and flying checkpoints, roads exclusively open to Zionist settlers, a public transportation system restricted to non-Palestinians, and many other obstructions.

In February, Israel’s Knesset passed a bill differentiating Christian Palestinians from the rest of the Palestinian community which remains within the 1948 territories.

Arab members of the Knesset unanimously condemned the bill as a “racist” act and a “divide-and-conquer” tactic.

Despite MK Yariv Levin’s contention that Israel is the only place that allegedly “protects” Christians, churches in the West Bank are regularly targeted by “price tag” attacks, a term Zionists use to describe hate crimes against Palestinians.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

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