Palestinian churches and mosques: Burned deliberately by Zionist extremists

There has been some consternation this week about comments that the (Israeli-government-paid) Rabbi of Beit El settlement made about the terrible fire at Paris’s Notre Dame cathedral. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner told a questioner that burning churches outside the holy land “isn’t our job for now. There is no mitzvah [religious credit] to seek out churches abroad and burn them down. In our holy land, however, the issue is more complicated.

The essential background for Rabbi Aviner’s statement is the fact that Jewish extremists’ torchings of churches and mosques in the areas controlled by Israel have a long history that continues until today.

In September 2017, Ha’Aretz reported this story: “53 Mosques and Churches Vandalized in Israel Since 2009, but Only 9 Indictments Filed.” The most recent church burning the article reported had occurred just days earlier.

One of the most notable of the church burnings in recent years was that at the “Church of the Multiplication”, located on the shores of the Sea of Galilee at the spot where Jesus of Nazareth was reported to have fed 5,000 people through the “multiplication” of just five loaves and two fishes.

That June 2015 attack left a Catholic monk hospitalized and caused nearly $1.8 million in damage, some of which is shown in the photo at the head of this post.

Among the Israelis suspected of taking part in that arson attack were Meir Kahaneh’s grandson Meir Ettinger and Ben-Zi Gopstein, the head of the radical “anti-miscegenation” group Lahava.

Gopstein, who has referred to Christians as “blood-sucking vampires” is one of the leaders of the political party Otzma Yehudit that was one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition partners in the recent election.

Palestine was, of course, the cradle of Christianity. (Above: the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem.) It is home not just to some of the most ancient and revered sites of Jesus’s ministry but also to numerous Palestinian-Christian congregations whose members can claim with some justification to be descendants of Jesus’s earliest converts.

These indigenous Palestinian Christians have suffered alongside their Muslim compatriots from the dispossession and oppression meted out by the Zionist colonial-settler project.

People around the world have been expressing great sadness at the burning (almost certainly unintentional) of so much of the Notre Dame cathedral’s glory. But we should also be aware that Christians and Muslims in Palestine– like the congregations of so many historically African-American churches in the American South– face a very real fear that ideological extremists will be continuing to threaten their places of worship with arson and other atrocities.

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Statement issued by the Palestinian National Movement inside the Israeli occupation jails

[The following is a translation into English by Yousef al-Jamal of the text of the Arabic-language statement issued by the prisoners’ leaders. It provides valuable background to recent developments inside Israel’s political-prisoner incarceration system. ~JWE Editor.]

“Allah said,
‘How many a small party has overcome a larger party by Allah’s will! And Allah
is with the patient.’” (Sura 2-249)

To the children
of our great Palestinian people,

Our people
still affirm their will of salvation, accumulating achievement after achievement
and writing history with their faithful spirits so that our nation could take
its place among nations and civilizations.

The right does
not get lost if there are people demanding it.

We, the inside-the-prisons National Movement, have met to formulate a plan to fight back and address the unprecedented assault that aims to steal all our rights and the gains that we have paid dearly to achieve over the years.

In our first
statement in 2019, we affirmed that we are facing a real and organized war led
by the Israeli occupation which is using all its arms to wage this war against

This campaign
began by withdrawing the rights and achievements won by prisoners by breaking
into sections and through the suppression of prisoners which resulted in 150
injuries at the Ofer Prison.

This was
followed by the installation of jamming devices in Section 4 in the Negev
prison, which rang an alarm putting our lives at risk. We tried hard and in
different ways to address the matter with the Israeli Prison Service, but
without achieving tangible results, as the jailers continued their arrogance following
transferring prisoners in section 7 at the Ramon Detention Hospital to Section
1 and installing jamming devices there, suppressing our brothers and brutally
assaulting them, which resulted in more than 50 injuries, after the prisoners
decided to burn all rooms as a defensive step to protect their lives from the
slow death of these jamming devices.

At this stage, we
informed the jailers that this criminal act will change the nature of dealing
with them and that the blood that was spilled from our brothers will be
answered by the same manner where prisoner Islam Kefahi took the initiative to
end this injustice and stop this oppression against our brothers to keep their
dignity, drawing a new line for the occupation in its battle of wills against

This is where our enemy realized that it had misjudged the situation and realized that the demand we held up was a fact and that we were not ready to negotiate our own dignity.

In the context
of these events, we prepared a comprehensive plan for starting an open-ended
hunger strike known as the battle of Al-Karama (dignity) 2, which began on
April 8, 2019, which saw the entry of the leaders and representatives of the
prisons’ dialogue committees into the strike.

The dialogue
between the prisoners and the IPS began on Sunday April 7, 2019. In light of the
arrogance of the Israeli occupation, we announced the start of the battle of Al-Karama
2 on Monday April 8, 2019.

In a tactical
step, we adopted two different paths:

  • 1. Starting a dialogue with the IPS to win our rights.
  • 2. Expanding the scope of the hunger strike whenever necessary.

The dialogue was resumed on Tuesday April 9, 2019 based on the aforementioned principle. Having an internal consultation among prisoners was our principle. All the detainees participated in the decisions and the atmosphere of the internal dialogue was clear.

 In this context, we emphasize the following:

A. We send words of loyalty and gratitude to the blood that spilled at the Negev Desert Prison in our homeland of brothers in Section 4 and Section 1 of the Ramon Prison. These great sacrifices taught us that freedom and dignity are the basis of virtue and that it is a human right that cannot be denied.

B. We highly appreciate the inherent position of the people of Gaza and its leadership who revealed the unity of our shared destiny, which appeared in their actions and linking all understandings of the current stage with the Israeli occupation with our just cause. History will not forget these positions of life during moments of death, and words fail to express or pay this favor to them.

C. We thank our people in the occupied West Bank, the Occupied Homeland, our people in the Diaspora and the free people of the world, who supported us at times of retreat (by some).

D. We recommend that all our people and nation support the Palestinian resistance, which gave us its sword when we were under the arrogance and aggression of our enemy on the night of the massacre of the Negev Prison. The response was clear from Gaza with pride, hitting the heart of the Israeli entity. We, on behalf of all the prisoners, salute our brave resistance which protects our Palestinian national project as well as the oppressed and the weak.

E. We thank our Egyptian brothers for their leading role in supporting the issues of our Palestinian people and working to lift injustice imposed on us, and their position will be remembered in our history.

F. We declare reaching an agreement with the IPS to achieve our goal of removing and neutralizing all jamming devices, and for the first time in the history of the prisoner movement, allowing detention centers to install a public telephone in all prison sections, wherever there is a Palestinian prisoner.

G. Restoring imprisonment conditions in all sections of detention centers to what they were prior to February 16, 2019, which is the date of the beginning of the events that accompanied the installation of jamming devices as well as imposing extensive punitive measures against us.

H. We managed to achieve a number of basic humane demands that impact the lives of prisoners, especially isolated prisoners and their departure from isolation.

I. We will monitor the behavior of the occupation and we are in a state of readiness to implement what was agreed upon as we don’t trust the IPS and there is no place for good intentions and actions on the ground will determine our decisions.

The battle is
not over yet. The most difficult stage is the implementation of what was agreed
upon. Do not stop your support and this what we trust you will keep doing.

We salute NGOs
and bodies working for the issues of prisoners and all local and international
media bodies for their pioneering and leading role in conveying our hopes,
alleviating our pain and exposing the crimes of the Israeli occupation against

Our great
people, we have the right to be proud for belonging to you. Our country will
continue standing as long as you are there defending it.

Your brothers,

The Palestinian National Movement inside the Zionist occupation jails

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