Message from the Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem

 Dear Friends, Salaam and Grace in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ and blessed greetings from Jerusalem. I want to thank you for your letters and faxes of support and encouragement over the last ten days. Truly it does make a difference, to know that we are being kept in your thoughts and prayers. I want to share with you my shock when I read in the Jerusalem Post newspaper of October 4th that the Israeli Defence Forces assigned to protect Jewish residents of the Galilee were recruited two months ago. They had not even completed their basic training. I have been told by my contacts here at foreign Embassies that this entire event was planned more than two months ago, and perhaps had been scheduled to coincide with the September 13th declaration of a Palestinian State by President Yasser Arafat. President Arafat defeated expectations and postponed his declaration of Statehood. In response, Barak allowed Sharon to enter the Haram al Sharif compound, and provided more than two thousand soldiers to accompany him. The Israelis were well prepared for this event, while the Palestinians were not, and were taken by surprise. No wonder the large number of deaths and serious injuries. I also want to share with you a recent poll published in today's Al Quds newspaper (Dahav, 10/7/00). * 74 per cent or Jews polled view the demonstrations of Israeli Arabs against the recent atrocities of the Armed Forces as treachery. * 71 per cent of Israeli Arabs feel insecure as a result of the recent developments. * All polls show an increase in Israeli support for the right wing politics of Sharon and Netanyahu * 60 per cent of Jews polled wish to see all Arabs out of Israel, whereas * 100 per cent of fanatics religious Jews want all Arabs out of Israel. The vehemence with which the Israeli Armed Forces have responded to our Palestinian people is staggering. I am following this with the text of two international appeals that have come from the Diocese of Jerusalem and the East Jerusalem YMCA. We need to push for an international team to investigate these events, to be carried out by a neutral body, such as the United Nations. Israel's refusal, in spite of the fact that perhaps not one member of such a team will be an Arab, is proof enough that they are responsible. Know that this comes with my prayers and continued best wishes In Christ The Rt Rev Riah Abu El-Assal Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem

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