Sabeel Wave of Prayer: Week of March 7, 2022

Sabeel Wave of Prayer: Week of March 7, 2022

Last week Sawsan Bitar was invited to speak about the ecumenical work of Sabeel at the synodal conference of the Catholic Church in Jerusalem.

  • Lord, we thank you for the outreach work of Sabeel in the Holy Land. We pray for courage and strength for those who work for Sabeel, so they may continue to guide others in your ways. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.

On Tuesday, the 1st of March, entry requirements for travelers to Israel were relaxed. The rule change means that more pilgrims and tourists can return to visit Palestine and Israel after thirty months of absence and uncertainty, due to the pandemic.

  • Lord Jesus, we are thankful that people around the world are able to travel to the Holy Land again. We ask you to bless their journeys and to help us all to prepare our hearts as we take part in the services of Lent and Holy Week. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.

A project called ‘Afaq’,(meaning, horizons) is being sponsored by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and Bethlehem University. It aims to help Palestinian women and young people start their own businesses. So far it has reached one hundred Palestinians across thirteen parishes.

  • Lord, we are thankful for this new outreach to young Palestinians to help support them with guidance and technical support, as they set up local businesses. We pray for a time of recovery after the difficulties experienced by so many during lockdown. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.

Ra’ef Salaymeh was forced to start demolishing his own home in the occupied Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina on Friday, the 4th of March. The Israeli municipality accused him of building his home without a permit. The municipality rarely grants permits to Palestinians. He would incur a fine of $35,000 in demolition costs if he had not started to demolish his own house.

  • Lord, we pray for an end to this inhumane policy of house demolition imposed on Palestinians by the Israeli authorities. Lord, the injustice of this policy is made even more painful when Palestinians see permits approved for the construction of thousands of new housing units for illegal Israeli settlers. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.

The funeral of Ammar Abu Afifeh  took place at his home in the Arroub refugee camp, north of Hebron on Wednesday, the 2nd of March. Ammar had been shot and killed by Israeli soldiers at the village of Beit Fajjar, north of Hebron on the previous day, but the army had refused to release his body to his family for twenty four hours. Hundreds of Palestinians attended his funeral  to protest his killing. Mourners at the funeral were fired on by Israeli soldiers using rubber coated bullets and many also suffered suffocation from tear gas canisters fired at the crowd by the soldiers.

  • Lord, we pray for the family of Ammar as they grieve over his violent death at the hands of the Israeli military and for the further distress they suffered during the violent attacks by soldiers at his funeral. We pray for an end to the Israeli army’s use of excessive force and live ammunition against the Palestinian people. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.

On Wednesday, the 2nd of March, Israeli settlers chased Palestinians who were foraging for gundelia,(or akkoub) in the Khallet Makhoul area, in the northern Jordan Valley. Israeli soldiers provided protection for the settlers and detained some of the foragers. Gundelia is a thistle-like plant which grows for a brief season in the springtime and has been used in traditional Palestinian dishes for generations. Israeli authorities claim the plant is now an endangered species. Palestinians maintain that environmental degradation and any threat to plant species is caused by rapidly expanding Israeli settlements and the proliferation of closed military zones in the occupied Palestinian territories.

  • Lord, we pray that the Palestinian foragers will be released from detention. We pray for an end to the constant harassment by those Israeli settlers who are resolved to force Palestinians off the land. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.

In May 2021, extremist settlers established a new settlement called the Evyatar outpost on land south of Nablus, belonging to the Palestinian towns of Beita, Qabalan and the village of Yatma. Palestinians have been protesting the theft of their land, but their outcries have been met with the use of extreme force by the Israeli military. Since May 2021, nine Palestinians have been shot and killed in the locality, many others have been injured, arrested and stifled by tear gas attacks.

  • Lord, we pray for the residents of Beita, Qabalan and Yatma as they mourn their loved ones who have been killed by the Israeli military. We pray that this annexation of Palestinian land by illegal Israeli settlers will be thoroughly investigated by the International  Criminal Court in the Hague. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.
  • We join with the World Council of Churches in their prayers for the United Kingdom: for the countries of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.