Stand with TRUTH and WORK for Justice

LATIN PATRIARCHATE SCHOOLS

August 20, 1997

Fr. Emile Salayta

General Director

Latin Patriarchate Schools

To Labib Kobti

Priest of the Arab-American

Roman Catholic Community,

California, USA.

Dear Fr. Labib,

Greetings from Jerusalem. Patriarch, Michel Sabbah, and staff asked me to take some time to inform you of current situation here in the West Bank and Jerusalem. The current punishement on all Palestinians for the deplorable bomb attack in Jerusalem is reaching crisis proportions.

The Israelis have built a network of raods over the last three years, that make it possible for them to separate villages and Towns from each other. Israeli soldiers on those roads make it impossible for people to move out of their area. The towns in the northern area like Ramallah, Nablus, Jenin and Jericho have finally been opened but people and goods do not move freely as yet.

In the south, Bethlehem and Hebron areas are under tight curfew. Pilgrims are only occasiopnnaly allowed into Bethlehem . They are being back by the busloads, yet there is no danger to them. People do not understand why Bethlehem in particular is being dealt with so severely. Freedom of religious worship in Jerusalem and Bethlehem is dead. Medicins are not being allowed into Bethehem and some are now completely depicted from the shelf.

Food and suplies are not being allowed through the very area. The sick cannot move freely to reach doctors and hospitals. Last week a woman gave birth at checkpoint because soldiers would not let her go to a hospital. Work has stopped for many and some businesses have closed. Farmers lost the chance to sell their harvest over the last three weeks.

The situation represents thousands of peace loving people who are innocent of any wrong doing against Israel. Their only desire is to live in peace with Israel.

We fear that if this continues, many will not be able to pay school fees which are due now since schools start next week. These fees are necessary for teachers salaries and supplies for the new school year. We must keep our schools open. Many, many christians are coming to the parish priests for money to keep families fed and for emergency family assistance. Our Muslim brother and sister are not in a better situation, everybody is equally suffering form that collective unjust punishment.

We appreciate your support and prayers for our people. You have been kind and sympathetic to cries for justice and help in our times of need. Pray for the peace ofJerusalem and the plight of Clinstians and Muslims in the Holy land.

In Christ,

Fr. Emile Salayta

General Director

Latin Patriarchate Schools