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Bethlehem youth worker arrested by Israeli army


Anas leading a youth group.

Anas leading a youth group.

In April, ICN reported from the Pimlico parish pilgrimage to the Holy Land, led by (then) Deacon Patrick van der Vorst (who writes the daily Gospel in Art. He was ordained priest soon afterwards on 24 June)

While they were staying in Bethlehem, some of the pilgrims visited the Aida refugee camp, just outside the town, bringing children's clothes, coloured pencils and art materials for youngsters at the Youth Center. They were welcomed by the director Anas Abu Srour. Today we learnt that Anas was arrested and detained yesterday, while driving back from taking an English exam.

Parishioner Fleur Brennan said: "During our visit Anas showed us round the centre and we saw the vital work he's doing with the children, offering them respite from desperately overcrowded conditions. He is a real humanitarian beacon. It is shocking to hear that he has been arrested and held without charge. We are all praying that he will be released soon."

The Aida Youth Center sent out the following appeal today:

Dear friends,

We are deeply troubled by the news that our colleague and friend Anas Abu Srour, 35, has been arrested by the Israeli occupation army. Anas is the Executive Director of the Aida Youth Center in the Aida Refugee Camp, and is a vital member of the community. He is also a father to a newborn baby, a husband, son, and friend.

Anas traveled in his car from his home in the city of Bethlehem to the central West Bank city of Ramallah this morning, Tuesday November 28th. After completing an English-language exam in Ramallah, Anas sent a text message to his wife Maysan around 11.45am, telling her that he was on his way home to Bethlehem. That was the last that Maysan heard from him.

After 12 grueling hours of not knowing anything about Anas' whereabouts, we were informed shortly after midnight local time by the Palestinian Authority Liaison Office that he had been abducted by Israeli army forces. The Israeli military did not inform the Palestinian Authority of any details about Anas' arrest, including where he was arrested from, on what charges, and where he was taken to.

We are extremely worried about Anas' wellbeing. The current climate in the occupied West Bank is a terrifying one for Palestinians, particularly for Palestinian men like Anas, who are being rounded up and arbitrarily detained by Israeli forces. Since October 7th, detainees and prisoners have reported an increase in the systematic torture by Israeli forces against them, including beatings, verbal and physical harassment and assault, and being stripped naked during the arrest and interrogation process. Israel has also been enforcing the mass arbitrary imprisonment of thousands of Palestinian men, women and children under its policy of administrative detention, which Israel uses to detain Palestinians for months on end without charge or trial.

We are confident that Anas has not committed any crime, and that he was arrested for one reason and one reason only: that he is Palestinian. We demand the immediate release of Anas from Israeli custody, and the release of all Palestinian prisoners being wrongfully imprisoned by the Israeli occupation.

Please share this widely, and help us put pressure on the criminal Israeli occupation to #FreeAnasAbuSrour

We will keep you updated via our social media channels and these newsletter updates.

In solidarity,

Aida Youth Center

LINKS

Holy Land: Eyewitness report from Aida refugee camp - www.indcatholicnews.com/news/47005

Sign the letter asking for Anas' release here: https://forms.gle/dBVwX1TQz1sPyT256

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