After more than two years of vigils by Palestinian Christians that gained widespread international attention, the Israeli High Court issued a preliminary order questioning the path of the separation barrier that would further divide West Bank land, cutting off the Cremisan monastery and a valley of olive groves.
Photos and text by: Ryan Rodrick Beiler/Activestills.org
Bethlehem-area Christians joined by local and international activists gather for a Catholic mass to protest the Israeli separation wall that will cut off Beit Jala’s Cremisan monastery and winery from nearby West Bank communities, November 18, 2011.
“What do we do? We pray,” said Father Ibrahim Shomali to the crowd assembled in an olive grove in the West Bank town of Beit Jala. “Because we believe in God and we believe that one day he will hear our prayer and he will give us justice.”
For more than two years, in sunshine, rain and even snow, Father Shomali, a local Catholic priest, has led a weekly mass as a form of non-violent witness against the Israeli separation barrier that threatens to divide the Cremisan monastery, as well as vast hillside olive groves, from the rest of the Beit Jala community. Father Shomali made this statement during the last vigil prior to an Israeli High Court hearing on January 29 to decide the barrier’s route.
Though organized by the local Palestinian Christian community, this unique protest has welcomed activists and community leaders of all faiths, as well as Palestinian government officials, international church leaders, diplomats and journalists. The story succeeded in reaching major media outlets including BBC and NPR, and was featured on CNN’s Christmas broadcast.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas devoted an entire paragraph of his 2013 Christmas speech to the issue, saying:
“What the church is doing is being...Read More