Episcopal (Anglican) News Service
July 23, 2002

Bishop Riah of Jerusalem accuses Israel of fostering terrorism

(ENS) Bishop Riah Abu el-Assal of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and the
Middle East used a report to the Church of England's General Synod July 7 to
launch an attack against Israeli policies, accusing them of fostering
terrorism.

In his report, "Israel/Palestine--An Unholy War," Riah accused the Israeli
Defense Force of torturing Palestinians and claimed that Israel was
contributing to the increase in terrorism rather than curbing it. He also
warned that the continuing conflict could lead to the extinction of the
Christian presence in the region. Since the most recent intifada began
almost two years ago, he said that 1,600 people have been killed, including
450 young people under the age of 18.

"It is not humanly possible to live with the tortures imposed by the Israeli
Army," he wrote. "Israeli restrictions on movement are impeding hospital
staff and patients" from taking care of the victims. "All this does not
amount to a war on terrorism but rather to the systematic humiliation of an
entire people."

He added, "The result of all this is anger, frustration and a desire for
revenge. The Israelis may claim that they are rooting out terrorism but, in
fact, they are creating it. No one is left with enough sanity to heed the
value of human lives. The bottom cause of all this is not terrorism, as some
would think, rather it is the unjust and illegal occupation of Palestinian
land."

Riah said that the occupation "is also corrupting the Israeli culture and
society. This is an unholy war indeed," in a land "we call holy." After 2000
years of Christian witness, "today the church faces a serious threat of
extinction. This may be avoided but only if peace is established on
justice," based on withdrawal of the Israelis from all the territories
occupied in the 1967 war.