Holy Land Coordination visits Beir Onah near Cremisan
Beit Jala – On Sunday January 10, 2016, and following a visit to the Gaza Strip, the Bishops of the Holy Land Coordination visited Beir Onah near the Salesian monastery in the Cremisan Valley, where land confiscation is in process.
After the visit to the Holy Family parish, the Rosary Sisters and Missionaries of Charity in Gaza, the Holy Land Coordination Bishops were briefed by the Society of St. Yves of the latest developments in the Cremisan Valley case which includes the area of Beir Onah. The Bishops met with some of the landowners, whose lands were confiscated in preparation for the construction of the Separation Wall.
One landowner spoke about the long history of Israeli violations concerning his rights. In 1994, the Israeli authorities seized about 12 dunums (12,000 square meters) of his land in Al- Makhrour in Beit Jala, to construct a new road that links the settlement of Gush Etzion with Jerusalem. Furthermore, last August the Israeli Army confiscated about 4 dunums of his land and uprooted his olive trees.
He stated that “the reason why families emigrate is “the economic instability that prevents young people from planning and building their future and the constant confiscation of lands in Beit Jala by the Israeli authorities”. He added “we are living in constant anxiety as we do not know what Israel will do in the future”. He drew attention to the dangers of emigration, especially among the Christians saying “in a matter of 10-20 years, our Churches will become like museums and this is caused by emigration.”
On Sunday morning the Bishops went to the area of Beir Onah in the Cremisan Valley. However, they were unable to enter the confiscated area as it now has become a closed military zone. One of the Bishops reflected on this experience by saying “this is not my first visit to Beir Onah, I came here last year and during a peaceful demonstration we were hit by tear gas.” He added “this wall is scandalous and what is ironic is that the word “scandalous” or “a scandal” in Greek is “Skandalon” which means trap or stumbling-block.”
After their visit to Beir Onah, the Bishops concelebrated Mass with His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, in the Annunciation Church in Beit Jala. Later in the day day, the delegation departed for Jordan to meet with Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and Catholic institutions and organizations.
Latin Patriarchate Media Office/ Saher Kawas