April 3, 2002

URGENT! Eyewitness report from Ramallah - and more!


Hello everyone

Seldom have I been more touched, sickened and so deeply saddened, horrified in fact, by anything I've read in my whole life. (My comments continued below after this...)

Forwarded by LESLEY WHITING <lesleywhiting@yahoo.com>
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 2002 03:10:24 -0800 (PST)

Dear Friends,

This is a horrible massacre. Please call your local TV stations and bring this to the attention of the media NOW, IMMEDIATELY!

Naseer


From: http://www.electronicintifada.org/diaries/index.html

Tuesday, April 2, 2002

Urgent: Eyewitness report from Ramallah

Posted by The Editor

Ramallah, Occupied Palestine -- My name is Tzaporah Ryter (See her attached picture). I am an American student from the University of Minnesota. I currently am in Ramallah. We are under a terrible siege and people are being massacred by both the Israeli army and armed militia groups of Israeli settlers. They are shooting outside at anything that moves. I am urgently pleading for as much outside help as possible to help save lives here. I arrived in Ramallah last Thursday. I had come back for a visit to the Palestinian city where I had been previously living and studying.

On Thursday afternoon, the Israeli army began sealing off each entrance to Ramallah and there were rumors that they planned to invade. People were rushing back home from across checkpoints and also people were trying to flee. People were not allowed to go out and many working people with homes and children to return to were not allowed in,everyone was trying to take cover. Those traveling in began desperately searching for alternative ways and traveling in groups, but the Israelis were firing upon them and everyone was running and screaming. Women carrying their children were trying desperately to flee from Ramallah,carrying infants and toddlers, and their young children were running along in the rain through the fields, slipping and falling on the rocks, trying to reach safety. Israeli jeeps were speeding across the terrain pulling up from every direction and shooting at the women and children, and also at me, as we ran in opposite directions. They were chasing down people, hunting them like that in the fields. When I reached Ramallah, people were panicking and trying to buy bread, rice and milk from corner stores, but most supplies were already gone. We bought what we could and went inside to wait for what was coming.

When night fell, Israeli tanks began to invade and also we saw Israeli troops coming on foot from the valley, and surrounding our house. I could hear them calling to each other in Hebrew. They were against our door and all around. They were firing everywhere a barrage of bullets and there was tank fire. We had to lay on the floor and keep silent. We stayed there, on the floor, for nearly four days in the darkness. We knew that our circumstances were better than others because old people or infants or people with medical emergency needs had no help. It was very cold, with most families packed all in one room. Some people are without life sustaining medicines like insulin, and they are altering their doses dangerously if they have any medicine left to take. People are becoming dangerously sick from lack of food and water and heat. The fear and terror only makes things worse, but it cannot be avoided. In the daytime, we heard them shooting people in the streets, and could hear them screaming and screaming. No ambulance was allowed through. Then their screams stopped and there was just silence.

We had a telephone and would receive calls from all over telling us what was happening. Everyone is in grave danger and Israeli soldiers were killing people everywhere. They are arresting medics and ambulance drivers, including foreign volunteer medical workers. They keep taking doctors and medics, just now another call. Again, this time the wife of a doctor telling us her husband has been taken from the ambulance. Large groups of people have been found in rooms, shot dead, there are blood marks where they have lined people up on their knees and shot them, with their ID cards laying on top of them. They are taking people from their homes, blindfolding them, removing their clothes, taking them away or lining them up and shooting them against the wall. People are making phone calls and saying that these soldiers and militia have come in and are shooting people and then the line cuts off. The numbers of these killings I fear are much greater than the numbers confirmed in the press, because the human rights offices and the media centers have been stormed, and everything is shut down. No one can move without almost certain chance of being shot by the Isreali snipers, who are everywhere. The Israelis are demanding that all journalists leave Ramallah and today another foreign journalist was shot. They do not want any more internationals here and are deporting people. It seems quite clear that they do not want eyewitnesses which is only heightening my own fears.

The hospitals have also been surrounded and invaded and Israeli troops are taking the injured people and interrogating them. Today a woman, a patient, tried to walk out from hospital. The Israelis shot her in the neck and killed her. The Palestinian Ministry of Health is saying that they fear the spread of diseases because of the number of unburied corpses. The numbers are only growing in reports of the mass killings here and Israeli troops continue to round up people. People are calling frantically, missing a relative and we do not know where they have been taken, including children.

The numbers we have now exceed 600, and we are estimating between 700 and 800. All human rights groups and legal advocates are being denied any information of where the detained are being held. From what we know confirmed is that 10% of those taken so far have been children under age 18. On the fourth day I decided to try to move. People were running out of supplies and I also was so worried about people, and had to check to see if they were okay. If I didn't, I feared panic would overtake me so badly that I really had no other choice but to try and go. It was not safe where I was in any case and at least if I left I would still have my sanity. It was really terrifying as there are some internationals here, usually traveling in groups, and the Israelis are saying on the radio that they will arrest or shoot the internationals. They did shoot some yesterday and regardless, it's not as if snipers differentiate and they are everywhere. My friends told me not to go, and were really scared for me, but I had to go.

When I went outside, there were cars all shot up and hit by multiple bullets and shells in the middle of the road, unparked. There must have been people in them but I dont know where their bodies are. There are no reports of them, but they must exist I got to the corner trying to go to the bakery for bread and food for people. Some people were calling and calling with only one cup of rice left. I made it to the corner but they opened fire on my first try, and shot at me,so I had to turn back. After that I tried again and it took me one day to make it a block because I had to start over again and again. I had to climb through the valley, and as I passed house by house, people were warning me and pointing out what path seemed safest for these two minutes. In the next two minutes, it would be something different. They really helped to keep my path safe.

Today is Day Five and they are still rounding up people like this and we hear them shooting all day long. This afternoon the Israelis suddenly lifted the curfew, suddenly announcing that everyone had two hours to go out to get food. However, the Israeli soldiers also took food from many of the stores, looted, and there is no bread or things. People went to get whatever they could. Even though the Israeli army said it had lifted the closure for two hours in which we still were not able to transfer medical supplies and still was not long enough to everything that was badly needed the Israelis continued shooting people in the streets indiscriminately on their way, so people were running around trying to make it to the store or find a safe route only to have to run back home again. It was an added cruelty and terror tactic inthis macabre situation, a sick joke: starve people and then shoot them when they try to find food with your permission.

In an apartment building in Beitunia neighborhood where I used to live, they took 60 people who were my neighbors, including several familes, and pushed them into one room since last night. The Israelis told them that they are to be used as an human shields‚ as the apartment building is across from a building that they were invading. One child needs to go to the hospital since last night and, initially, the families were able to call outside. Now, the Israelis have taken their phones.

There are reports that they are rounding up men between the ages of 14 and 45 in that neighborhood, and these civilians, from these same Palestinian families trapped in that building, were just used to walk in front of an Israeli tank as it invaded the Preventative Security Compound. Reports also have alleged that the Israelis were saying that some could leave but shot them when they attempted to leave. The buildings there are burning, and people are trapped inside. We keep calling to try to find people but there has been no electricity and most people’s phones are dead now. I do not know what is happening to many people. The only solution to this is to try to brave the deadly streets in order to check, but its almost impossible and terrifying to leave the house at all. Each place I come to, I am afraid to leave not only for myself but for everyone else in this horrifying position.

Israeli death squads have been yanking people into the street. I also hear only shooting and shooting, with no return fire. This suggest that unarmed civilians are being gunned down mercilessly everywhere and I am so scared for everyone. I feel like maybe if I leave one place, one area or neighborhood I will never see the people again alive. There are more explosions outside now and more shooting. Another explosion. More firing, it just doesnt't stop. This is a massacre.

The foreign delegations tried to get in but were turned back, the International Committee of the Red Cross is trying to help but they are being ignored. Please help. I am not only scared for myself and for people here, but if this cannot be stopped, I am truly scared for all of humanity, for a world in which we send men to the moon but cannot stop ethnic cleansing. On the news in America, we see hardly anything of demonstrations. What are you doing over there?

There do not seem to be any reports of what is happening. In truth, it’s got to stop. Please go out to the streets, please demand a response from your representatives. Be loud, march up to the capitals, refuse to leave until the Israelis withdraw.

Act now! Tell them the Israelis are murdering innocent people whose only crime is being born in their own homeland, a Palestinian under a military occupation. Demand international protection for the Palestinian people, scream that this is an affront to humanity and that it is time that the US not only stop supporting Israel, but that the US stop its abuse of human rights within its own borders. This is about all of our struggles.

For the love of God, please stop this slaughter. Please help.

(END OF REPORT)

(Jean's Comment Continued...)

As I read this poignant call for help from a human being just like you and me going through what can only be described as the murderous, ethnic cleansing policy of the Sharon government, I only felt like crying in despair and horror.

Israel is supposed to be a civilized, sophisticated society, not some medieval hold-out of bloody fanatics out to kill everything that moves just for the sake of satisfying some lurid desire for vengeance.

Another Rwanda is now taking place under our very eyes, and everybody seems to be looking the other way, once again...

All governments throughout the world must obviously be aware of what is going on right now in Palestine. And they seem to do nothing except paying lip service by publically proferring vain, pitifully inadequate condemnations of Israel's grossly murderous policy of genocide - and in the case of George W Bush, he is even overtly condoning this policy, and by so doing he is, to me and in the face of history, its fully consenting accomplice. This does not bode well for the future of America, for the future of our quickly uncivilizing world, and for the future of democracy on Earth.

If the power of those hidden manipulators and cabalists holding a stranglehold grip onto so many elected politicians around the world - which is the only reason why Ariel Sharon can get away with what he is doing - is not quickly countered by a popular - and *peaceful* - uprising against this inhumane policy, then a much worst and wider conflict could ensue, and our very future on this environmentally bleeding planet would then be in even greater jeopardy -- for while all attention and resources would be diverted to this war, the ongoing and entirely human-made catastrophe of planeticide will continue unabated and unattended.

Please consider this as a possibility to be taken seriously.

There is still time to stop this policy of terror, but there is preciously little of it left...

ACTION IS URGENTLY NEEDED NOW!

Jean Hudon
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000

Visit this website above to find out more about this worldwide information networking service.

P.S. I wish I could tell you what can be done - there are some useful resources for action below though - besides the obvious which is to circulate this entire email to all your contacts (copied and pasted into a new email as for all the Internet petitions) and hopefully eveyone else receiving it will do likewise immediately and very soon there will be hundreds of thousands if not millions of people (especially in the US) reading this and getting also activated to just do something about this. If you feel like me and would like to add your personal comments before sending it to your list, I heartily encourage you to do so as this cannot be just a matter of a few people protesting this horror. The chorus of voices raised against this must become deafeningly loud for our coward governments to hear it, our media to perhaps echo it and Israelis people to come out of their stupor and stop their government and army from continuing this incredibly evil thing they are doing. This is NOT about turning against Jews who have suffered more than enough throughout history. This is NOT about hating those who are committing these crimes and those condoning their actions - for there is already far too much hate and anger to go around and far not enough loving compassion for ALL human, divinely ensouled beings. This is about reclaiming our humanity and affirming loud and clear our will to live in a world free from all forms of violence, a world caring for all its children and for all generations to come, a world where the Will of God will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.

NOTE FROM JEAN: If you are not on the Earth Rainbow Network e-list and receive this as a forward, there are 3 other compilations posted yesterday that will give you much more details as to what is going on in Palestine...

The X-Files #12: Kafkaesque, Grotesque and Downright Putrid (04/01/2002)
http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000/Archives2002/XFiles12.htm

Media compilation #60: Ethnically Cleansing Palestine? (04/01/2002)
http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000/Archives2002/MediaCompilation60.htm

Miscellaneous Subjects #138: The Insanity of War (04/02/2002)
http://www.cybernaute.com/earthconcert2000/Archives2002/MiscelSubjects138.htm

I also STRONGLY recommend you read more such reports as above at http://www.electronicintifada.org/diaries/index.html (try it again if it does not work immediately as it is likely to be a very busy URL)

Here are some excerpts of what is posted there:

Wednesday, April 3, 2002
Report from Kalandia Checkpoint
Posted by The Editor

Sent 3 April 2002, 6:23PM Palestinian Time (GMT+2)

Kalandia checkpoint -- Today, between 5,000 and 6,000 people -- Israeli peace activists, Palestinians in Israel and Palestinian MK's in the Israeli Knesset -- marched to the Kalandia checkpoint, with several aims:

1. To ensure that urgently needed aid people here had collected - medicines and food - would enter Ramallah.

2. For the Palestinians, to try to enter Ramallah, breaking the military closure around the city and protesting against the curfew and occupation;

3. To protest America's open support for the clearly illegal occupation, and re-assault in the West Bank.

CLIP

Update on faculty, staff and students at Birzeit University

Ramallah is without water

Israeli military turns off water to all Ramallah

Wednesday, April 3, 2002

These children, again,...
Posted by Arjan El Fassed

Ram, Occupied Palestine - The children, who lost their mom, 64 years old Sumaya, and her son Khaled yesterday, are still in the bathroom of their home in the old city of Bethlehem. The bodies have still not been evacuated. Ambulances and medical personnel, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have been prevented access by the Israeli forces, despite the desperate humanitarian crisis. Nine children remain in the bathroom. The bodies are decomposing and nor the bodies nor the children are allowed to be evacuated. Two hours ago, a local cameraman, accompanied by a journalist have visisted the home. The images already have been broadcasted on an Arab Satelite Channel.

A demonstration at the checkpoint

MANY MORE ARTICLES!




LESLEY WHITING ALSO SENT THIS...

Date: Wed, 3 Apr 2002
Subject: We need help! Send help now please!

The presidential compound in Ramallah is currently being fired upon. We still have 34 foreign peace activists inside. There is a dire shortage of food and no water. They urgently need medical supplies. Please see the appeal below. Also posted on website. Palestinian doctors were forced to dig a mass grave in the parking lot of the Ramallah hospital today to bury 25 of the dead bodies that have been retrieved over the past 4 days. Though it is difficult to get an accurate count of the dead due to the Israeli military preventing medical workers from operating, doctors were forced to make room in the hospital morgue. We have been unable to bury the dead properly due to the Israeli siege and their open shoot policy. Pictures available on website. A 55-year old woman by the name of Widad Majed Nimr Safwan was shot dead by Israeli snipers as she left the Ramallah hospital this morning where she came for treatment of her broken leg. Widad left the Shiekh Khaled bin Zayed hospital at approximately 11am this morning, to have her dead body carried back by an Italian peace worker at 11:15am. Snipers shot Widad in the cheek and back of the neck. PLEASE keep up the pressure on your respective governments.

We really need help here.

Huwaida

===

SEND HELP NOW

As members of the international civilian peace force on the ground in the besieged Palestinian towns of Ramallah and Bethlehem, we are sending out an urgent call for help.

First of all we'd like to confirm that there are 34 foreign civilians still inside the Presidential compound, under siege by Israeli forces. They are 27 French, 2 Germans, 1 British, 1 Belgian, 1 Brazilian, 1 Israeli/Canadian and 1 Irish. They have been in there since Sunday, March 31, 2002. They are reporting to us a severe shortage of food, no water and a desperate need for medical supplies. We have repeatedly attempted to deliver food, water and medicine via a Red Crescent ambulance but the Israeli military is not allowing the aid through. The foreign peace activists inside the compound are calling for immediate international intervention. They have issued an urgent call to their respective ambassadors. In addition to the ambassadors, we are calling upon UN Secretary General Kofi Anan, EU Foreign Minister Javier Solana, US Secretary of State Colin Powell, General Anthony Zinni, and EU Special Envoy Miguel Moratinos to come immediately to Ramallah and intervene to stop the Israeli assault on all Palestinian cities and people.

Up until now unarmed foreign civilians have been doing the work that our governments and the international community should be doing and MUST START DOING NOW. We have now also become purposeful targets of the Israeli military. Yesterday Israeli soldiers opened fire on a large group foreign peace activists in Beit Jala, wounding six (2 Americans, 3 British and 1 Australian). Now international peace activists are in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron, the Dhaishe refugee camp, Aida refugee camp, and Azza refugee camp, serving as human shields to protect the Palestinian people. The Israeli government has declared martial law in Ramallah and Bethlehem and has ordered all of us out. We refuse to leave. Some of us have already been arrested and deported for our solidarity work with the Palestinian people.

We need help NOW. The United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross are being prevented from working inside the besieged Palestinian towns. The Palestinian Red Crescent society and aid workers are being detained by Israeli forces and their ambulances are denied passage to deliver humanitarian aid and to pick up wounded and the dead. Ambulances are also being shot at and medics and doctors forced to sit on their knees at gunpoint in the streets.

We appeal to the world not to remain silent and to come to the Occupied Palestinian Territories to help protect the Palestinian people. WE are witnessing war crimes and must work to stop this! We will continue our attempts to help the Palestinian people, despite the danger on our lives. The United Nations and our respective governments must intervene now, decisively and unconditionally.

WE NEED HELP! SEND HELP NOW! PLEASE.

---

Please contact your political representatives immediately and ask them to urge a cessation of hostilities on both sides. Also encourage them to urge the use of international observers, many of whom are currently in Ramallah and the surrounding area.

You can easily find how to contact for your own U.S. Senators and Congresspeople at http://government.aol.com.

To begin, here are four important people to address in the United States.
Use phone AND fax AND email:

President George W. Bush

The White House
1600 Pennsylvanian Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Phone: (202) 456-1111 -- Fax: (202) 456-2461 -- E-mail: president@whitehouse.gov

Vice President Dick Cheney
(The White House, as above)

Condoleezza Rice
National Security Advisor
(The White House, as above)

Secretary of State Colin Powell
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, NW

Washington, DC 20520
Phone: (202) 647-6575 -- Fax: (202) 261-8577 -- E-mail: secretary@state.gov


---


UNITED NATIONS ADMINISTRATION:

webmaster@unhcr.ch

areca@unhcr.ch

unsco@palnet.com

ecu@un.org

coi@un.org

webadmin.hchr@unog.ch


EUROPEAN UNION:

romano.prodi@cec.eu.int

civis@europarl.eu.int

epbrussels@europarl.eu.int

public.info@consilium.eu.int

belrep@belgoeurop.diplobel.fgov.be

karin.roxman@consilium.eu.int

christian.jouret@consilium.eu.int

Javier.Sancho-Velazquez@consilium.eu.int


CANADA:

Prime minister Jean Chretien <pm@pm.gc.ca>

Bill Graham <graham.b@parl.gc.ca>


ISRAEL:

Ariel Sharon, Israeli Prime Minister:
rohm@pmo.gov.il or
webmaster@pmo.gov.il
Fax: +972 2 651 2631

Benjamin Ben Eliezer, Israeli Minister of Defense
Email: sgansar@mod.gov.il

Shimon Peres, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs
Fax: +972-2-5303367
Email: sar@mfa.gov.il

Here is the phone number of the IDF Commander for the Ramallah area
(from the US):

011-972-2-9970461
Mobile: 011-972-54-240-303
Voice your protest to him personally.




YESTERDAY I RECEIVED THIS WHICH CAN BE VERY USEFUL EVEN TODAY IF YOU CHOOSE TO TAKE ACTION

From: "David Harris" <year2020vision@earthlink.net
Subject: Action
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 2002

1. ADC Action Alert: Nationwide White House Call-In/Email Campaign on Palestine

ADC strongly urges all its members and supporters to join a nationwide call-in/email campaign to the White House tomorrow, Tuesday, April 2, between the hours of 9 AM and 9 PM eastern time, to protest Israel's onslaught against the Palestinians and to demand an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Remember that the White House will take a tally of all calls and e-mails it receives, so every single call you make or email you send counts. This is the least we can do to show our support and solidarity with the Palestinian people who are being subjected to around-the-clock Israeli aggression. So alert your family and friends to join you tomorrow, in what will only take a few minutes of your time, but will mean so much.

WHITE HOUSE CONTACT INFORMATION:

Email: president@whitehouse.gov

Tel: 202-456-1111 (Public comment line where you can leave a message)

Tel: 202-456-1414 (President's Office)

Fax: 202-456-2461

TALKING POINTS: Reminder: Keep your comments, brief, polite and simple.

1. Demand that President Bush immediately act to enforce Security Council Resolution 1402, which the US voted for on Saturday and which the State Department and the UN Secretary General endorsed today. Resolution1402 demands an immediate Israeli withdrawal from all Palestinian areas re-invaded since Friday.

2. Emphasize that there is no military solution to the conflict. Peace and security for both Israelis and Palestinians can only come with an end to the 34-year old Israeli occupation. Urge President Bush to embrace the Saudi-initiated Arab League Declaration offering Israel peace and normal relations with all the Arab states in return for Israel withdrawing fully from the West Bank Gaza and East Jerusalem and a just resolution to the refugee problem based on UN resolutions. The Arab League plan provides the best opportunity in years to resolve the conflict, meets the stated needs of all parties and is consistent with international law.

3. Express your outrage that Israeli occupation forces have reportedly been attacking Palestinian medical services and personnel, including hospitals, ambulances, doctors and nurses, and paramedics.

4. Urge President Bush to express as much outrage about Israel's killing of over 1,200 Palestinians in 17 months as he does concerning the deaths of 400 Israelis in the same period. Most of the dead on both sides are unarmed civilians.


American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
4201 Connecticut Ave., N.W., Suite 300 Washington, D.C. 20008, U.S.A.
Tel: (202) 244-2990, Fax: (202) 244-3196
E-mail: adc@adc.org
Web : http://www.adc.org

2. Sample letter of protest to Colin Powell


[date]

To U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell
secretary@state.gov

Secretary Powell,

I am writing to urge the United States to immediately implement UN Security Council Resolution 1402, passed last week with the support of the United States, requiring the immediate withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from Palestinian towns and cities, especially Ramallah.

Openly defying the will of international community, Israel is continuing its widespread attacks against the entire Palestinian population including medical facilities and personnel.

Israeli occupation forces are currently attacking the headquarters of the Medical Relief Committees in Ramallah. The Haaretz website reported at 6 PM local time that:

"The Ramallah headquarters of the Medical Relief Committees came under heavy fire. Using megaphones, Israeli troops ordered all the building's inhabitants out, including the medical staff, resident families, and a group of Italian peace activists. Head of the Medical Relief Committees, Dr Mustafa Barghouti told Ha'aretz that all those who had left the building were made to stand against the walls with their hands up."

The website added that "the organization is the most important non-governmental Palestinian group, providing medical assistance, treatment and first-aid to Palestinians. Its work is especially important at the moment as the Palestinian Red Crescent Society cannot reach all Palestinians injured in the city due to IDF roadblocks." (IDF shells medical organization's Ramallah headquarters, Haaretz, April 1, 2002)

This attack constitutes a direct and grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and UN Security Council Resolutions 1402 and 1322 among many others.

I urge you to immediately deny press reports which say that the United States has given Israel a "green light" to continue its rampage in the occupied territories. If these reports are true, then it would mean that the United States has given its support to overt, grave breaches of international law, and even war crimes.

I urge you to declare clearly, in English and in Hebrew, that the quickest and only route to ending all the violence is to end Israel's military occupation and rule of terror against millions of Palestinians, and to demand that Israel immediately accept the Arab League peace plan for a political settlement in accordance with international law.

Yours,

[your name]




From: "Pam Perry" <pbc@globalnet.co.uk>
Subject: Prayers and Plagues in Jerusalem
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 2002

In an atmosphere where our two nations are besieged by terror and paralyzed with fear, a circle of Israelis and Palestinians have been meeting weekly for the past 18 months. On Friday March 29th we held our 80th Old City Peace Vigil in the small courtyard overlooking the Western Wall and Al-Aqsa mosque. In a time when many in our circle feel deeply challenged to do something positive, silence and shared prayer seems to be the most powerful contributions we can offer at this most unforgiving time.

On this holy day to the three Abrahamic faiths- Good Friday, Pesach and Salat al-Juma'ah (Muslim Friday prayers) we gathered with messages from many people and vigils around the world praying for peace in the Holy Land.

As we sat in silence, we were joined by a group of Christians living at St. Andrews monastery, among them nuns and pilgrims from Germany, England, France and the Philippines. Christians linked hands with Muslims, who linked hands with Jews, and each person offered heart-felt supplications for peace.

Among the unit of tough-looking border policeman in the area, one was especially moved when he saw the sight of such a diverse group gathering in such divisive times. Haj Ibrahim began by asking for the world to stop selling weapons to both sides for use in killing each other. Then Eli, an officer from the unit said "Halavai, if only your prayers for peace could succeedSI pray for true peace in the whole world.

It has been 18 months since the initial violence that signaled the onset of the intifada. For the first time in a year, clashes erupted again outside Al-Aqsa mosque between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. While worshippers were wisked away from both the Temple Mount and the Wall, soldiers and police, Good Friday pilgrims and Haredim rushed to the overlook site in the small courtyard where we hold the vigil to watch the events. Just as Devorah was offering a plea for mercy in face of clashes on the Temple Mount, we heard the loud explosions of stun grenades. At that point our friend Nizar from East Jerusalem, who had just finished Friday prayers at Al-Aqsa, joined us. We stood still, bearing witness. When quiet prevailed, Nizar lifted the Quran and read a teaching about oneness and our unity as Children of God. Eliyahu offered a teaching from the Torah about the arrogance of exclusive human ownership of God’s Land.

In spite of this plague of violence, this was a most inspiring peace vigil, bringing people together for a ray of collective hope. On the way out of the Old City, the narrow stone paths in the market were deserted, as if frozen in time. Then a hailstorm pelted Jerusalem, perhaps a message from above.

Please pray at the same time as the Old City Peace Vigil at 12 Noon Jerusalem time (10am GMT)

Devorah Brous: deb2000@zahav.net.il
Ibrahim Abuelhawa: maryhawalyn@alqudsnet.com
Eliyahu McLean: eliyahu@peacecom.org or eliyahu@actcom.co.il







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