Christians in Holy Land cut off by 'security walls'

 Religious communities based in the Holy Land are being cut off by the Israeli government security walls, according to a statement sent by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem yesturday. The Franciscans say they are watching with "growing concern" the 350-kilometre cement and barbed-wire barrier the Israeli government is erecting to keep out Palestinian terrorists. Last Wednesday the Israeli government announced plans to build another 42 kilometres of security wall in the West Bank. Fr Giovanni Battistelli, custodian of the Holy Land, told the Italian Bishops Conference new service: "For a long time we have suffered limitations in the issuing of visas and movement. Even this wall that the Israelis have been constructing for months passes through some of our properties in Bethpage and other places. In Bethpage we are building apartments for Christian families to avoid their emigration." The Franciscans are seeking legal advice to protect their properties, but Fr Giovanni said he was not optimistic. He said: "If they knock down others' homes, what hope do we have of recovering our land?" Fr Giovanni said the Greek Melkite Sisters were also in difficulties as the Israeli wall was being built across their access road. Source: Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

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