Israeli forces raided the Cremisan Monastery in Bethlehem late on Sunday, 28 July 28. Witnesses told the Palestinian News and Info Agency (WAFA) that Israeli soldiers broke into the monastery, held the people who were inside, and inspected their personal documents.
The raid has been condemned as a violation of the sanctity of places of worship, and a violation of international law. Under Human Rights Law, Israel must “ensure that religious places, sites, shrines and symbols are fully respected and protected”, and “take additional measures in cases where they are vulnerable to desecration or destruction.”
The Cremisan Valley area has been a hotbed of resistance against Israel’s annexation wall, because the Salesian Sisters of Cremisan Convent and the Palestinians of Beit Jala will soon be the annexation wall’s latest victims. The planned route of the annexation wall will separate more than 50 Palestinian families of Beit Jala from their agricultural land, and they will have only limited access to the land via an agricultural gate. Furthermore, the wall will separate the Salesian Convent from 75% of its land. The convent’s land, along with the monastery, will be on the Israeli side, whereas the convent and primary school will be on the Palestinian side.
To fight the planned annexation of their land, the Palestinians of Beit Jala and the Salesian Sisters of Cremisan launched a seven-year-long legal appeal that was supported by the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary, William Hague, and the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. However, on April 26, 2013, the Special Appeals Committee of the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court ruled in favour of the planned route of the annexation wall. The annexation wall is illegal according to international law and the fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory.
According to the United Nations, 85% of the annexation wall is built illegally inside the West Bank, thereby annexing roughly 10% of its land.