A Call to Participate in World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel
#WWPPI-Sept. 21-27, 2014
In recent weeks, the eyes of the world have been on Gaza, as Israeli armed forces have waged a military campaign that has resulted in the deaths of more than 2,000 Palestinians. Beyond the deaths of innocent civilians, the damage inflicted has been severe: the demolition of thousands of housing units; the destruction of sewer lines, power stations and other vital infrastructure; and a new generation of Palestinians imprisoned and punished by the overwhelming and indiscriminate use of deadly force.
As the conflict has continued, ceasefires have come and gone. It is the hope and prayer of the world community that the artillery fire and rockets that have filled the skies over Gaza and southern Israel may cease for good, and the people of Gaza may be given the opportunity to rebuild their shattered communities.
However, the root of the regional conflict remains. Israel continues to occupy Palestinian lands, in violation of international law, and exerts essential control over Gaza. Until the occupation ends, the conflict between Israel and Palestine will go on.
In this light, the Palestine Israel Ecumenical Forum (PIEF) of the World Council of Churches invites member churches to participate in World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel (WWPPI) during 21-27 September 2014. This yearly event encourages and equips congregations, community groups and people of faith to worship, educate and advocate for an end to the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.
This year, the theme of WWPPI is “Let my people go” (Exodus 9:1). In response to the request of church leaders and laity in Palestine, the WWPPI international working group has chosen to focus attention in 2014 on the critical issue of political prisoners incarcerated in Israeli jails: Palestinians imprisoned in Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories and annexed East Jerusalem; administrative detainees; child prisoners; prisoners suffering harsh conditions; and Israeli conscientious objectors.The design of the Week seeks to bring renewed attention to the 2013 Christmas address by His Beatitude FouadTwal, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, who called upon the world to remember those in prison. Through this year’s theme, churches around the world will state their conviction that God stands with those in Palestine and around the world who are oppressed, and seeks liberation for those unjustly detained.
The plight of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is one of the major human rights violations against Palestinians under the occupation. As of 1 May 2014, there were 5,271 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons and detention centres, including 192 administrative detainees, 17 women and 196 children. According to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, since 1967 about 750,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israeli forces. Many are arrested and held without charge under a draconian measure referred to as “administrative detention” rather than by judicial decree. Their detentions are not for civil crimes but because they chose political resistance to the illegal occupation. Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories, has characterized Israel’s detention regime as one “designed to disrupt Palestinian society, producing an atmosphere of arbitrariness, instability and powerlessness.”
To assist partners worldwide to observe the Week, a number of resources have been created by the WWPPI international working group in cooperation with partner human rights and Christian organizations in Palestine. These include:
- The Jerusalem Prayer from the Churches in Jerusalem
- The liturgy “Let My People Go,” written by Palestinian Christian laity and clergy, to be used by local congregations on Sunday 21 September
- A booklet guide for observing WWPPI 2014, created by the international working group and Palestinian partners, with information, theological reflections and advocacy suggestions for each day of the Week
- A dossier on the issue of prisoners held by the Israeli occupation forces, authored by human rights’ and prisoners’ organizations in Palestine and Israel (coming soon)
- An online petition to be signed and circulated in support of prisoners in Palestine (coming soon)
These and other resources can be found on the Resources page of the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel website. Please continue to refer to this site for additional updates through the end of the Week.
The theme of WWPPI 2014, “Let my people go,” is more than just a slogan. It is also a prayer. We pray for the release of those unjustly imprisoned. We pray for the freedom of all who are oppressed by forces of occupation. And we pray for our own liberation from the evils of prejudice, hatred and violence. During WWPPI 2014, from 21 to 27 September, let us hear anew God’s call to continue the struggle against oppression and occupation through inspired worship, insightful education and engaged advocacy.