Beit-Jala have been Bombed by Israel
October 25, 2000

Jerusalem, 27/10/2000
Dear friends,

His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, visited this afternoon the city of Beit Jala, where he was received in our Seminary there by a very big delegation of the people, such as the mayor, members of the Palestinian National Council, parishioners, and many journalists.. He heard a full explanation about what is happening in their city. After the meeting we moved with the delegation and visited more that ten damaged houses by the Israeli nocturne attacks on the city from the nearby Settlement of Gilo.. We were astonished and impressed that most of the missiles fall in the sleeping rooms civilians and damaged parts of these houses.. Thanks God that there was not any human casualties, there was three injuries reported only.. because people used to flee the houses during the attacks or sleep in hidden parts of their houses, because most of the houses in our country don't have any kind of under ground shelters...

We noticed that the people are scared especially children.. the hate the night, because during darkness they are afraid to be attacked. But, Nevertheless, we noticed that these people are very proud and determinate, especially, they have a great feeling of solidarity between all the inhabitants, and they really feel like one family... It is also very interesting to notice also, that a theatre was also hit by a missile in this area, when we entered we saw more that fifty children rehearsing for artistic activities which will be performed for all the children of the zoon and in many schools in order to entertain the scared children of this area, and the trainer told us  "that they wanted to destroy our theatre but we will not stop and let them destroy the spirits of our Children... They destroy and we will continue to build.." This was great for me, I felt that this people will not die but want to live...  but in freedom like all the other peoples of the world...
 

After this visit to Beit Jala, we moved to the nearby refugee camp AIDA (which means RETURN) which is very closed to both the tomb of Rachel from one side, and the settlement of Gilo from the other side... Here we visited some damaged houses, a very big stone factory which was attacked by five huge missiles launched by Helicopter-gun-fire-jet...But the most emotional moment was when we arrived to the house of one of the martyrs, a 13 years old boy who was killed by a life bullet on his head during confrontations with the soldiers around the Tomp of Rachel... The Patriarch presented the condolence to the family, father and mother and grandmother and he said a consolation words and hoped that the blood of this boy and all the martyrs will not go in vain but will be the grain of the future independence and freedom for the Palestinian people.. and in this house he spoke with all the journalists who accompanied us during the entire visit, most of them local TV station who broadcasted a full report about the visit during the evening...
 

After this two hours round, the Patriarch visited some religious houses, such as the Franciscan sisters of Mary who are in the midst of AIDA refugee camp. He visited Cremisan Salesian Convent. then we returned to the Seminary in Beit Jala where he met with our Seminarians who live since more than ten days on the tonality of the shootings almost each night, they are scared but more than that, their families are worried and storm them with phone call each day, because two third are from Jordan.. Fr. Maroun the Rector of the Seminary accompanied the Patriarch in this round with some of the seminarians, also Fr. Ibrahim Ayyad, who is 91 years old, and a very famous figure in the Palestinian arena, was with us all the time.
 

After all, I still wondering and asking myself, why all this is happening? When all this will stop? Why these people don't have the right to be protected or to live a normal life in freedom? Why they have to pay this heavy price each day? Will they forget and forgive? What kind of dreams they dream our children each night if they can even sleep?.... and many other questions in my mind...!! If you can help us to give a definitive answer to all these questions, please, do some thing soon...!!!

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Dear Friends,

After this narrative of the visit of the Patriarch, I will leave you with another testimony of what happened in this same area,... Mr. George Abu-Dayya, was kind enough to send me these information.. and he is updating me and collecting facts from the ground inorder to share it with you.. I would like to thak him for his hard work and to thank you for you patience...
 
 

 

Israeli Brutality Renewed

 

Undefended and exposed to Israeli assaults, the peaceful town of Beit Jala has, once again, become the target of Israeli fusillade of 500mm machine-gun fire followed by an assault with missiles launched towards the center of the town.

            On the evening of Monday, October 23,2000, and less than 24 hours after the first missile assault on the Nazzal family house in Beit Jala, The Israeli fighter helicopters once again opened 500mm machine–gun fire on the almost deserted quarter where the Nazzal family lives.  Their target was, this time, about 100 meters to the south, where the Zummar family lives, in the vicinity of the Greek Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas, the Patron Saint of Beit Jala.

            The devastation was heavier this time, but thank God, no casualties were reported. One missile hit the garage of the Zummar family in the basement of the house, completely destroying the daughter’s brand-new car; (Installments are still being paid). The family car was destroyed as well, and serious damage was caused to the foundations of the building.  A second missile hit their bathroom and destroyed it completely. The Zummar family will have to seek shelter somewhere else until their bathroom is rebuilt. Another missile hit main pillar of the neighboring house; the house is no longer habitable now. Another missile landed on the main road digging up a hole about 8 feet in diameter and about four feet deep; completely destroying the power lines, the water pipes and the telephone lines.

            The damage caused by the 500mm machine-gun volley was by no means less serious. The glass of nearly all the houses in the vicinity was shattered, scattered fires broke out in the neighborhood and could not be easily put out because the water reservoirs on the roofs were blown up by the machine –gun fire. A taxi cab and another private car parked by the roadside were seriously damaged as well.

            A simple analysis reveals a significant shifting in the Israeli policy towards the Palestinians under the National Palestinian Authority, coinciding with the resolutions of the last Cairo Arab Summit Conference and the severance of the diplomatic relations between Israel and several Arab states.  This shift can be characterized as a progressive step from assaults on unarmed, defenseless civilians to a more serious step like re-occupation, or even, annexation of territories to stop alleged attacks of Palestinian demonstrators on Israeli soldiers and settlers.

            The rationale for this policy is well known to all, but due to the absence of a stable Palestinian, Arab and global policy to encounter the Israeli scheme, which represents a blatant violation of the international norm of protecting civilians, Israeli violations will continue unabated. This development might just nib in the bud  any opening of new vistas in the peace process.

                                                                                                George Abu Dayyeh

                                                                                                            Beit Jala

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Fr. Raed Awad Abusahlia
Chancellor
of the latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Personal Secretary of H.B. Patriarch Michel Sabbah