Jala - a Palestinian village besieged
Beit Jala is a quiet village
of 12,350 near the city of Bethlehem. It is renowned for its harmony
among western-oriented Latin Catholics and Greek Orthodox and a few traditional
Muslim families. Since November, 2000 this peaceful village has been
the target of numerous clashes and shelling by the Israeli forces.
Also see | Palestinian
Territories | Bethlehem
| Beit Sahour |
| Pontifical Mission
for Palestine |
Neighbors and family
mourn the death of a 13 year old boy killed when a bomb destroyed the family's
the birds have gone"
A young Palestinian Christian,
named Ihab Lulas, recently sent the following letter to the world via the
internet in which he describes the death of his brother's friend by a sniper's
bullet (quoted in the Haaretz
Daily News, October 28, 2001):
"`Even the birds have gone,'
my mother told me this morning. Another dawn breaks in Beit Jala and we're
still awake and the Israeli tanks and helicopters are preventing the sun
from shining. This morning, we couldn't hear the chirping of the birds
or the bells of the churches. Just the sound of the Israeli killing
machine and the crying of our mothers and tears of our men. They killed
the boy. Musa was 19, another victim of the hatred and cruelty of the Israeli
Zionist soldiers. He wasn't carrying any weapon. His only crime was that
he was born Palestinian and his mistake was that he sat down to watch television
with his family. The Israeli bullets came through the window of his home
and struck him in the chest, killing him and leaving his family in terrible
mourning ... For anyone who doesn't know, this is what is happening
in this holy land, especially here in blessed Bethlehem, in the place where
Jesus was born ... I don't know if God is watching us now. I don't know
what Jesus would have said to this innocent boy who bled to death in the
place where he was born. I don't know what the world is seeing or why it
is waiting. Palestinian blood has been dripping since 1948 and Israel is
still killing us and our children. But we are the strong ones in this war.
Our dream is the true dream ... I could be the next in line. Pray
to God to watch over me and my family. Ihab, Palestine."
Several families were
displaced when tank shells destroyed their apartments
Father and son inspect damage
to their home hit by Israeli tank shells - their second floor is totally
says the LORD: "A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for
her children, because they are not." - Jeremiah 31:15
& Matthew 2:18
our churches but spare the homes of our faithful."
"As regards the houses which
continually undergo the Israeli bombardments, we say to the Israelis: Destroy
our churches but spare the homes of our faithful. If you must impose, at
any price, collective punishment and if there needs be a ransom in order
to procure the tranquillity of innocent children and families, we offer
our churches: Destroy them; we will find other places in which to pray
and we will continue to pray for ourselves and for you."
"And to the Palestinian militants
who think that it is necessary to direct their fire against the Israelis
from populated houses, even when the orders are clear: Do not transform
peaceful homes into a line of fire – to them toowe say: Obey the orders,
preserve the cohesion of Palestinian society, and spare the homes of the
innocent. We agree to offer our churches as ransom for any house that they
want to demolish. However we cannot agree to the demolition of the homes
of our children so that they be forced to abandon their land."
Sabbah, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, March 1, 2001