Holy Land: Israelis take over land near Shepherds Fields

Picture from church at Shepherds Fields

Picture from church at Shepherds Fields

The Shepherd's Fields in Beit Sahour near Bethlehem, in the West Bank,  has for years been a popular destination for Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. According to tradition it is where the angels announced the birth of Jesus.  But illegal Israeli settlers now are moving into the area and a hilltop near the Fields has already been occupied.

A former Israeli army base on the hilltop, Ush al Ghrab, (which means 'Crow's Nest')  near the Fields which had been returned to the Beit Sahour municipality for development,  is now at the centre of a new struggle for land.
International charities were working on a project to turn the land into a park and playground for the local community. But the top of the hill has now become off limits, as the army has returned and erected a military watchtower there.  The settlers regularly visit the location, calling for the creation of a new settlement.  Local residents are afraid to send their children to the park, because of the presence of the settlers and Israeli army.

Tensions were riding high elsewhere on the West Bank yesterday, the 16th anniversary of Dr Baruch Goldstein's massacre of 29 Muslim worshippers in Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque. About 100 demonstrators, including Jewish and international peace campaigners attempted to walk down Shuhada Street, near the Mosque, which has been closed for years to Palestinian pedestrians and drivers. They were prevented from doing so by the Israeli military who broke up the crowd with teargas. A number of demonstrators and passers-by were taken to hospital.  Vigils in solidarity with the Palestinians were held on the same day in a number of locations around the world.
Source: Amos Trust/CPT

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