Urgent Appeal from the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem
Regarding the Church of the Nativity
From Archimandrite (Doctor) Atalla Hanna
Official Spokesman for the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem and the Holy Land
Regarding the Siege and Break-in Attempts of the Church of the Nativity
+ We strongly denounce and condemn the attempts of the Israeli Occupation Authority to break into the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Shelling and bombing have set the sanctuary of St. George Church, where children are baptized, on fire. Several of the rooms at the monastery adjacent to the Church of the Nativity, where the Greek Orthodox Bishop of Bethlehem resides, were also burned. The shells, bullets and bombs resulted in massive losses and obvious impact on the structure of the Church which is considered to be a spiritual, humanitarian and cultural landmark of Christianity. Several of the besieged inside the church were also hit by the shells.
+ We charge the Israeli Government and its occupation forces with responsibility for this vicious attack on the most important Christian Churches in the world. We affirm that these Israeli acts of occupation are shameful assaults on the sanctity of holy things and a disgraceful violation of the religious consciousness of Palestinian Christians, in particular, and all Christians throughout the world, in general. The Occupation Authority has overstepped all boundaries and acts without restraint, ignoring all spiritual, human and cultural morals.
+ We call for immediate international intervention to prevent the Occupation Authority from engaging in any further inhumanity towards people and property. Nothing seems to be beyond their reach, including all things that are holy and sacred to millions of faithful throughout the world.
+ We demand the end of the siege on the city of Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity in particular. We will not accept any attempt to harm the Palestinians who are blockaded inside the Church of the Nativity. We are very concerned about their safety and insist on the end of the siege on all Palestinian towns, cities and camps. We are further concerned about the tragic living conditions of the Palestinian people. We appeal to the human rights advocates to intervene and save the Palestinian people from the severe violations of human rights committed against them.
+ Occupation poses a great danger to the security and stability of the national and international community. It is, therefore, imperative that this scandalous aggression against the Palestinian people and property be stopped, the occupation ended and the Palestinian Nation, with Jerusalem as its Capital, established. This is the only way stability in the area and in the whole world can be guaranteed.
+ We appeal to all the Christian Churches of the world in general and of the Middle East in particular to dedicate tomorrow (Sunday) as a day of unity in which we pray for the Palestinian People and the besieged Church of the Nativity. We further appeal to the Christians in the Holy Land to go to Bethlehem on this day to pray at the Church of the Nativity and to show to the entire world our rejection and condemnation of the siege and occupation that is imposed on the Church of the Nativity.
Jerusalem: April 20, 2002
Translated 24-Apr-2002 by Lucy Hanna
View this Appeal in the original Arabic