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Holy Bridges vs Apartheid Walls

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[West Bank village of Aboud]On November 7, 2006 over 330 International ecumenical Christians attending Sabeel's 6th International Conference left Jericho and traveled to Galilee to visit Aboud, a typical Palestinian village and a few of their nine ancient churches.

Since the Bronze Age, 3,000 years ago there had always been six roads to travel that intersected Aboud as its center.

That is until The Wall cut through it.

The Jordanian born priest and pastor of the Latin Church, Abouna/Father Aridah explained, "Aboud is a holy place. The Holy Family and the Samaritans all traveled through here. Our oldest standing church is from the 5th century and our newest was built in the 11th century. Aramaic, the language that Jesus spoke was spoken here until the days of the Crusades when Arabic became the mother tongue.

"We are facing many problems and difficulties today because of The Wall that has cut off the ancient roadway, the destruction of our olive trees and the stealing of our water. Anyone who talks security for Israel should understand about the Green Line and The Wall in Aboud has been built 6 kilometers from it. If Israeli's want security they should stay on their land and off of ours. It's all about justice and injustice is all we receive.

"After 1967 the Palestinians received an order from the Israeli government that they cannot transfer their land to their own children! Israel stopped inheritance! They steal our land! International Law and the Geneva Convention Article 49 paragraph 6 states: The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.

"The Israeli government has taken 36% of Abouds land for The Wall and illegal settlements. They take our water which is the best in the West Bank for we sit on top of the aquifer and they pipe it to the illegal settlements.

"In the 1980's two illegal settlements were built and we have no problem with those settlers, it is The Wall that is our main issue. The Israeli's have cut down over 1,000 olive trees. They are killing our people's way to feed their families.

"Our people use to work in Jerusalem but now they cannot get permission to go there. If the people go to Ramallah to work it costs them 12 shekels a day for transportation. They don't make more than 50 shekels a day, so what is left for all their labors? Nothing!

"The Israeli government talks about compensation, but all the landowners get is $20.00 per uprooted tree when each season the farmer would receive at least $200.00 from selling the olives from just one tree!

"I went to speak to American Congress about this injustice. They have been informed, but they don't do anything about it. I was the guest of Senator Henry Hyde and Bush and Cheny know about our situation. We are still waiting for justice!"

Abouna/Father Aridah showed us photos of nonviolent demonstrators against The Wall which documented the soldiers kicking and beating the people until they bled and were unconscious.

"We have no problems with the Israeli people, but we have major problems with their government! We have no problem with the illegal settlers who came in the 1980's and we have no problems with Muslims. All our problems are with the Israeli government and the occupation!

"So far 2,200 of our people have left Aboud because of this situation and we Christians and Muslims are an equal number. We live in peace and harmony, it is the actions and policy of the Israeli government that causes all our problems.

"Soldiers came to the ancient site of St. Barbara's Church, which was a cave and the soldiers bombed it from the inside in December 2000. All the Muslims came to be with us and witness the destruction.

"In 2000, some settlers from a new settlement and the IOF/Israeli Occupying Forces cut and burnt 4,000 olive trees for "security" reasons. But the real reason is they are destroying our lives. We replanted the area with grapes and at night one of the new settlers came and stole 500 plants. The Wall isolates and divides Aboud farmers from 26% of their land, that is about 1,100 acres!

"I have no problem with anyone, all I am saying is that the view of the Church is for justice and to honor the dignity of all human beings. The Holy Land does not need walls, the Holy Land needs bridges."
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Eileen Fleming,is a Citizen of CONSCIENCE for US House of Representatives 2012 Founder of Staff Member of, A Feature Correspondent for Producer "30 Minutes with Vanunu" and "13 Minutes with Vanunu" (more...)
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