15 July 2014
Palestinians in Rafah, Gaza Strip, gather around the remains of a house that police said was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike. Israel said it shot down a drone from Gaza on 14 July, the first reported deployment of an unmanned aircraft by Palestinian militants whose rocket attacks have been regularly intercepted. (photo: CNS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Israeli strikes on Gaza enter day seven (Various) Israel launched a military offensive on Hamas-controlled Gaza last week, alleging a response to an increase of rocket attacks from the territory. At least 172 Palestinians have died and more than 800 homes have been damaged or destroyed since fighting began last Tuesday, with more than 1,300 Israeli rockets striking the region. Palestinian militants have in turn fired some 1,000 rockets into Israel causing some injuries and property damage, but no fatalities have been reported among Israelis. Egypt proposed a cease-fire deal that Israel backed, but whereas Hamas found the proposal met none of its conditions, the effort ultimately failed. As the conflict continues to escalate, both on physical and ideological fronts, many around the world appeal for peace — including Pope Francis, the office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Israeli and Palestinian mothers, and the United Nations.
Iraq: Nuns, orphans released by kidnappers (Vatican Radio) Two nuns and three orphans under their care have been released in Iraq by kidnappers linked to ISIS, the Al Qaeda-inspired Sunni militant group also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Speaking to AsiaNews, Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I expressed relief that there was “finally good news” in the country where ISIS, under the banner of a new Islamic “caliphate,” has captured large swaths of territory from the Shiite-led government in Baghdad…
Christian, Muslim groups urge Lebanon neutrality (Daily Star Lebanon) Moderate and independent Lebanese Christian and Muslim figures Tuesday called for a Lebanon free from Hezbollah or the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. A statement issued Tuesday by the moderate groups the Lady of the Mountains and the Shiite Consultative Gathering as well as other independent Lebanese figures slammed ISIS and Wilayat al Faqih, an indirect reference to Hezbollah, as “spiritual sisters.” Under the Wilayat al Faqih doctrine, which was introduced in Iran after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the supreme ayatollah, or highest religious authority, has final say in political matters as well…
Ukrainian army shells convent in Lugansk (Pravoslavie) Before sunrise on 4 July 2014, the Ukrainian army, coming very close to Lugansk, fired artillery against the regional clinical oncological dispensary of Lugansk, where the St. Olga’s Convent is located, reports the convent’s website. The site message suggests the attack was “a response to the prayer resistance to the fratricidal war, organized by the clergy and sisters of the convent…”
14 July 2014
Tags: Iraq Lebanon Ukraine Gaza Strip/West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Palestinians surround the body of a 10-year-old girl, whom hospital officials said was killed in an Israeli airstrike, during her funeral at a mosque in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip on 11 July.
(photo: CNS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters)
Some thoughts on the escalating crisis in the Holy Land and its impact on young people, from the website of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem:
What is the origin of the current conflict? It is difficult to say precisely. We agree on several factors: the threat of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the endless conflict in Syria, and instability in Egypt. Recently we witnessed the end and the failure of peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine, in particular because of the refusal of Palestine to recognize Israel as a “Jewish state” and the continued construction of illegal Israeli settlements, which led to a new wave of pessimism and despair. The attempted reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas has not convinced the State of Israel which refuses to talk to Hamas, considered a terrorist organization.
The discovery of the three dead Israeli teenagers and the revenge that followed, leading to the horrific death of a young Palestinian, were sufficient to ignite a wick. And one does not know how big the powder keg is to which this wick is attached. “We do not know when and how it will end,” says Father David Neuhaus, Patriarchal Vicar for the Hebrew-speaking Catholics to Vatican Radio. This recent expression is very sad because once again the victims are young adults and the responsible elders are not ready to shift their policy positions that deny the rights of others.“
Also on Vatican Radio, Archbishop Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem appeals to parents, governors and the Ministry of Education: “What kind of education are we giving to these young people? That is the question. From where does this education come? No one is happy. No one. Neither the Israelis nor the Palestinians.”
In fact, often it is young people between 15 and 30 years who are at the forefront of these conflicts, encouraged or brainwashed by their elders, or they are discouraged by the lives they lead, without work and without a clear future. “You meet youth who are also against all this violence, says Fr. David Neuhaus. There have been demonstrations against the violence that brought Arabs and Jews together. To tell you the truth, I do not blame the youth, but I blame our political leaders who are not able to develop a language that will prepare a different future without the cycle of violence.“
...Father Neuhaus concludes by wishing “to take a stand with those values that are dear to the Church. It does not means looking at the Jewish or Palestinian part, the Israeli or Arab side. We look at the people, Jews and Arabs, who want something different from our current reality. I think that the Church seeks to contribute to change and must be courageous, generous and creative,” concludes Fr. Neuhaus. “The thing to do is look at who stands before us and call him ‘my brother’ because we are all children of God.”
Read more at the Latrin Patriarchate website.
14 July 2014
An Israeli takes pictures with his mobile phone as a missile launched from the Gaza Strip is intercepted by an Israeli defense system on 10 July. (photo: CNS/Atef Safadi, EPA)
14 July 2014
Pope Francis leads his 13 July Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. Pope Francis called for an end to the flare-up of hostility between Palestinians and Israelis, urging leaders to listen to the call of the people who want peace. (photo: CNS/Tony Gentile, Reuters)
Pope Francis appeals for peace in Holy Land (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Sunday asked for prayers for peace in the Holy Land. Speaking after the Angelus prayer in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope described his appeal as “heartfelt” and said we must all continue to pray insistently for peace in the Holy Land in the light of the tragic events of the past days...
Israel says it downed drone as death toll climbs (ABC News) The military wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed today that it sent homemade drones over Israel, after Israel said that it had shot down a Palestinian drone flying along the coast in southern Israel. Hamas’ Al Qassam Brigades boasted on Twitter that the drones carried out “three missions over Israeli military bases” and a “specific mission over Israeli war ministry.” The group claimed to have domestically built three different kinds of drones for surveillance and bombing missions...
Ukraine forces end blockade at airport (Reuters) Ukraine said on Monday its forces had ended a rebel blockade of a strategic airport in the east as it traded charges and threats with Russia over violations of their joint border during a weekend of fierce military combat. Ukraine’s military said its warplanes had inflicted heavy losses on the pro-Russian separatists during air strikes on their positions, including an armoured convoy which Kiev said had crossed the border from Russia...
Ukraine crisis damaging Catholic-Orthodox relations (AFP) The crisis in Ukraine is undermining reconciliation efforts between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church and has shown up Pope Francis’s inability to make his peace message heard in the conflict-torn country, analysts said. Francis has called for dialogue in Ukraine — as he does for conflicts around the world — but the Vatican has kept a distance and did not take a position on Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March or subsequent hostilities in the east of the country...
More Kerala nurses leaving India (Hindustan Times) The rains are weak this year in Kerala and everyone was talking about it. Then they started talking of something else — the rescue of the 45 nurses from Iraq, and the scandal of another batch that wants to go right back. The return from Iraq has lobbed certain questions at the Kerala nursing fraternity. It believes it has to answer them, both for self-clarification and to explain why things are the way they are. The questions are: Should they allow themselves to be ill-paid and stay safe? Or should they, before all else, go after the money?...
11 July 2014
A Palestinian boy carries his belongings as he walks past the rubble of his family’s house which police said was destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on 9 July. The Israeli army intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing dozens of people in a military operation it says is aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Salem, Reuters)
On 8 July 2014, the Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land issued a statement entitled, “Call for a Courageous Change.” The document is in response to the increasing violence that has followed upon the murder of three Israeli teenagers and the revenge murder of a Palestinian teenager. The response of the Israeli government and the Palestinian organization Hamas has been to escalate the violence and revenge. Each side with some justification sees itself as the aggrieved partner seeking justice, which is often little more than blood vengeance. Each side — again with some justification — sees the other as the aggressor and occupier. As has so often been the case in the past, the conflict conceives itself as a battle of the righteous against the unrighteous and then feeds upon itself getting larger and more violent.
With clarity and courage, the commission analyzes what it sees to be the main forces driving the crisis. The commission also is very clear as to where it sees responsibility on both sides. The statement clearly mentions “the irresponsible language of collective punishment and revenge that breeds violence” and lays responsibility on “many in position of power and political leadership [who] remain entrenched, not only unwilling to enter into any real and meaningful process of dialogue, but also pouring oil on the fire with words and acts that nurture the conflict.”
Following in the path of Pope Francis, the commission in its statement attempts to “speak truth to power.” It recognizes that no side in this conflict is pure victim and no side is pure victimizer. The roles go back and forth. The statement’s critique of that common human trait to see where I am right and my opponent is wrong, while overlooking the instances where I am wrong and my opponent is right, traces its roots to the saying of Jesus, “Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own” (Matt 7:3). The commission’s “Call for a Courageous Change” also throws strong light on one of the major problems in the conflict — namely, the mutual demonization of the other.
The statement makes a very important point that is often selectively overlooked in the media: “We need to recognize that resistance to occupation cannot be equated with terrorism. Resistance to occupation is a legitimate right, terrorism is part of the problem.” Throughout the entire document, however, there is the constant call for non-violent solutions and the commission condemns violence regardless of the side from which it originates.
In a region where polarization has become a way of life, “Call for a Courageous Change” is a light shining in the darkness. However, in a region where both sides have become “comfortable” with polarization, one wonders how much impact the document will have.
Read the statement here.
11 July 2014
Tags: Middle East Holy Land Israeli-Palestinian conflict Assembly of the Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land
A student attends a computer class at the Near East Council of Churches vocational center in Gaza City. To learn more about how Christian institutions help to sustain a beleaguered population, read Behind the Blockade, from the March 2012 issue of ONE. (photo: Eman Mohammed)
11 July 2014
Tags: Refugees Gaza Strip/West Bank Education Health Care Women (rights/issues)
A Palestinian man examines the damage to his destroyed house following an Israeli airstrike north of Gaza City July 11. A Catholic priest in Gaza said Israeli missile attacks are wide-ranging and that there is no safe zone. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)
Neuhaus: Irresponsible Israeli-Palestinian rhetoric begets violence (Vatican Radio) The Latin patriarchal vicar for Hebrew-speaking Catholics in the Holy Land, the Rev. David Neuhaus, S.J., has joined his colleagues of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land in calling for more moderate Israeli and Palestinian voices to ease tensions which have spiraled into a seemingly unending cycle of tit-for tat violence…
Rumor and leaks fill void as Israel silences press over killings (New York Times) Israeli intelligence officials used gag orders in recent weeks to stifle reporting on the initial investigations into both the abduction and the killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank, and the apparent revenge killing of a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem. These restrictions on media coverage of events in the Palestinian territories come more than five years after Israel blocked journalists from reporting on the bombardment of Gaza known in Israel as Operation Cast Lead. The current war in that territory is taking place in full view of foreign correspondents there, as the Haaretz columnist Anshel Pfeffer pointed out…
Greece holding migrants in detention, conditions ‘appalling’ (Al Jazeera) When a visitor identifying himself as an employer came knocking, Azher Abbas opened the door of the flat he shared with two other undocumented Pakistani migrants. To his surprise, police officers rushed into his home. Mr. Abbas spent 15 months at one of Greece’s largest immigrant detention centers, around an hour drive south of Athens. An estimated 6,000 are held in such camps, and thousands more at police stations. “We were never treated as people,” said Abbas. One day, he and other inmates complained about the chickpea stew. “A bunch of policemen came and spat in the food and held batons over us and said ‘eat it now…’ ”
Displaced swell Syria coastal population (Daily Star Lebanon) The population of Syria’s coastal provinces, relatively untouched by the country’s war, has risen dramatically, sheltering one million displaced people, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Friday. “Over a million people have arrived in Latakia and Tartus since the beginning of the conflict, swelling the local population by 50 percent,” the I.C.R.C. said in a statement…
Economic cooperation between Egypt and Ethiopia on the rise (Al Monitor) Cairo is working on resuming the Ethiopian-Egyptian activities that were suspended on all levels. This comes in tandem with the preparations for the expected visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi to Ethiopia, and as part of the restoration of dialogue aiming to settle the dispute between the countries over the Renaissance Dam under construction on the Blue Nile. The dialogue was re-opened following the meeting that was held between the Ethiopian prime minister and President Sisi on the sidelines of the last African Summit held in Equatorial Guinea…
10 July 2014
Tags: Egypt Ethiopia Israeli-Palestinian conflict Migrants Greece
A Christian woman who fled from the violence in Mosul, Iraq, holds her daughter as her baby sleeps on 27 June at a shelter in Erbil, Iraq. (photo: CNS/Ahmed Jadallah, Reuters)
I can think of only two words to describe it: total chaos.
I’m talking about the tidal wave of violence that’s sweeping across Iraq, as the extremist group called ISIS battles for control of the country.
Thousands of Christian and Muslim families remain trapped
in the deadly crossfire.
Here at Catholic Near East Welfare Association, this has us completely alarmed. It’s why I hope you’ll click here to help them.
Only days ago, two sisters and three young Iraqi Christians disappeared, and it’s feared they’ve been kidnapped by militants. The extremists also shelled the city of Qaraqosh, where CNEWA supports an orphanage. And in ISIS-held areas, Christians unable to flee are now forbidden to display crosses and other religious symbols.
As for the thousands of families who’ve escaped, they have no idea if their homes still exist. Many are elderly. The majority are women and children. All live in fear of what tomorrow may bring.
As the patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church has said, “We are losing our community.” He fears Christianity in Iraq will soon come “to an end.”
Pope Francis has urged us to pray for these victims of violence.
But they also need something else: your support.
At CNEWA, we’re committed to helping scores of nuns, priests and lay workers care for these displaced innocents — Christian and non-Christian alike. But I’m afraid their overwhelming situation is growing worse.
A simple donation, whatever you can give, will allow CNEWA
to help these terrified families.
Won’t you join us? With their world turned upside down, these families have never needed you more. So please help them. All you have to do is click here today.
Thank you and God bless you.
Donate HERE to support Iraq’s Christians and their neighbors
Donate HERE to support CNEWA’s work worldwide
10 July 2014
Tags: Iraq Refugees Iraqi Christians Iraqi Refugees Relief
A child holds a bowl of soup inside the Khazer camp on the outskirts of Irbil, Iraq, on 29 June. Thousands of Iraqi Christian and Muslim families remain trapped in the deadly crossfire. A simple donation, whatever you can give, will allow CNEWA to help scores of nuns, priests and lay workers care for these displaced innocents — Christian and non-Christian alike. Click the following links to make a generous donation to Iraq’s Christians and their neighbors, or to support CNEWA’s work worldwide. (photo: CNS/Stringer, Reuters)
10 July 2014
Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians War Iraqi Refugees Relief
Smoke rises after an an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on 8 July. The Israeli army intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing scores of people in a military operation it says is aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel. (photo: CNS/Mohammed Saber, EPA)
Gaza endures third straight day of Israeli airstrikes (Washington Post) Israel’s major military operation against Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip entered its third day Thursday, with a surge in deaths in the territory, including nine Palestinians killed while watching a World Cup game at a beachfront cafe. The death toll in Gaza jumped overnight, doubling to 80 dead and more than 500 injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. The latest fatality was 5-year-old Abdullah Abu Gazal, who was killed in a midmorning Israeli airstrike in Beit Lahia…
Water shortage crisis in northern Iraq towns (AINA) The water purification plants in Mosul supply water to the city and surrounding areas. After taking control of Mosul on 10 June, ISIS severely limited the water supply from Al Rashidiya and Al Slamiya water projects, which provide much of the Nineveh Plain with potable water. According to a report by the Hammurabi Human Rights Organization, ISIS is allowing only about 90 minutes of pumping per day. The Assyrian towns of Baghdede, Karemlis, Bartella, Tel Kepe, Batnaya and Bashiqah — home to nearly 200,000 Assyrians — face severe water shortages…
Middle East’s stable monarchy comes face to face with extremist threat (Al Jazeera) Several times since the Al Qaeda breakaway group staged its astonishing takeover of Sunni-majority Iraq last month, supporters of the Islamic State have marched through the streets in Jordan’s southeastern city of Ma’an raising black flags and declaring their restive city “Jordan’s Fallujah” — a reference to the extremist stronghold in Iraq, the first city that fell to the insurgents back in January…
Ukraine warns rebels it plans to retake territory (Christian Science Monitor) Ukrainian government forces on Wednesday warned separatists in the eastern town of Donetsk that a plan was now in place to take back the territory they occupy, but defiant rebels reported a steady flow of new recruits who were ready to fight…
Holy Synod to elect new Ukrainian Orthodox Church leader in August (Pravmir) The Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church made the decision to elect its new leader on 13 August, the church announced on its website…
Tags: Iraq Middle East Jordan Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ukrainian Orthodox Church