Patriarch Twal Condemns Israeli Demolition of Patriarchate Property
BETHLEHEM – Bulldozers of the Jerusalem Municipality, accompanied by Israeli Security forces, demolished the property on the Jerusalem-Hebron road, near the northern checkpoint number 300. This was a residential property of about 140 square meters, on which lived a family of 14 people.
The Patriarch’s statement came during his visit to inspect the demolished home, in the company of Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem, and Bishop Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel, Father Humam Khzouz, General Director of the Patriarchate, Father George Ayoub, Chancellor; a number of priests, the director of the Patriarchate Endowment, lawyers, engineers; consuls of foreign countries, including Italy and Belgium; representatives of churches and institutions; and a crowd of journalists from local and foreign news agencies.
In a press conference held at the site of the demolished home, the Patriarch said “looking upon a painful and upsetting scene raises discontent and anger. There is no justification for the demolition, but when the municipality and the Israeli government enact demolitions and displace people from their homes, these practices increase hatred and endanger the future of peace. This land has belonged to the Latin Patriarchate long before 1967. The Patriarchate possesses the official deed, and all legal paperwork proving ownership. Even worse, the legal tenants of the property, Mr. Salameh Abu Tarbush and his family, were taken by surprise by the demolition.”
The Patriarch added “We are the rightful/lawful owners, and you will hear our voice before all governments worldwide, and we will take legal action in appropriate courts to rectify this injustice, to bring back justice and rebuild this home. We have willpower and a spirit of belonging to this land of our ancestors, this sacred land which is home of our past, present and future.”
The home’s residents spoke about the displacement, which was carried out in the early hours of the morning, rendering them suddenly homeless. Their living situation is now tragic, in the open without shelter. The Red Cross is providing them with tents and assistance.
The lawyer of the Latin Patriarchate, Mr. Mazen Copti, confirmed the illegality of the demolition of this home and land declaring, “We will take all legal measures against the municipality of Jerusalem and the Israeli Ministry of the Interior to rebuild the house as it was.”
Source : HCEF
Photos : AK