by Anita Fast
Israeli invasions throughout the West Bank and Gaza have killed over
twenty-five Palestinians since Thursday. Many more Palestinians and several
Israeli soldiers have been injured. We are receiving tearful and fearful
reports of the brutal Israeli re-occupation of Bethlehem, Beit Jalla and
Hebron remains quiet, with a small amount of gunfire Friday night, October
19, but nothing since. No Palestinian-controlled parts of the city have
been re-occupied, and there has been no 24-hour-a-day curfew imposed on the
Palestinian population of the old city. Israeli fighter-planes and
helicopters can be heard overhead, and some Palestinians in Hebron fear that
the relative quiet here is just the calm before the storm.
Sandra Olewine, a United Methodist minister and good friend living in
Bethlehem reports that there is no way in or out of Bethlehem. Israeli
tanks and soldiers fire into civilian neighborhoods, hitting homes, hotels,
and even hospitals. Bishara Awad of Bethlehem Bible College called for help
writing a press release about ten people, including two children, trapped at
the College. They are unable to get out, and have neither food nor milk.
Mennonite Central Committee volunteer, Ed Nyce, is joining neighbors
sleeping in a cave beneath their homes in case of heavy shelling at night.
Few people venture outside anymore, as the death toll mounts.
Olewine writes: "Friends, we are on the verge of a very dangerous situation,
where many lives could be lost. As Sharon has given Arafat a seven-day
to 'hand over' suspects in the assassination of Ze'evi (killed Wednesday by
Palestinians), and as Arafat can certainly arrest and try them but never
hand them over, we could be looking at a veritable blood bath by next
Wednesday. Israeli forces are certainly in a position now to carry out
attacks across the West Bank and Gaza."
Israeli news sources Sunday reported that the Israeli military has confirmed
that the "operations" throughout the West Bank are likely to expand,
including an anticipated re-occupation of Palestinian neighborhoods in
Hebron that surround the old city.
We are all very concerned about what will happen in the next few days.
Please keep all the people here in your prayers, and contact your elected
officials and urge them to intercede before more Palestinians and Israelis
US and Canadian officials should demand that Israeli military forces
withdraw now from Palestinian cities. Following that, provisions in the
Mitchell report that would reduce violence (international observers and a
settlement freeze) should be implemented immediately.
You may note that the US war against Afghanistan is giving Prime Minister
Sharon both cover and a precedent for increased attacks on Palestinians.
President George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC, 20500
Fax: 202-456-2461; <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Secretary of State Colin Powell
U.S. Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520
Fax: 202-261-8577; <email@example.com>
Rt. Hon. Jean Chretien
House of Commons, Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
or Fax (613) 941-6900
The Honourable John Manley, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Lester B. Pearson Building
125 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, ON K1A 0G2
or Fax (613) 996-3443
Christian Peacemaker Teams is an initiative among Mennonite and Church
the Brethren congregations and Friends Meetings that supports violence
reduction efforts around the world. Contact CPT, POB 6508 Chicago, IL 60680,
TEL. 312-455-1199 FAX 312-432-1213 / To receive news or discussion of CPT
issues by e-mail, fill out the form found on our WEB page at