The Occupied Palestinian Territories have recorded about 15,000 cases of coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak. They are now experiencing a second and more severe wave of the pandemic, with the number of deaths recorded at 86 (as of the 2nd August). The Palestinian Health Authority has reported a spike of new cases in Hebron and East Jerusalem and are powerless to impose strict containment measures in these areas which are under Israeli control. The situation in these areas is exacerbated by Israeli nightly raids and arrests as well as the shutdown and demolition of testing centers set up in Silwan and Jenin.
Oh Lord, we cry out to you and pray that the Israeli authorities will cease their acts of harassment and aggression against the Palestinians. We pray that those living in overcrowded conditions, especially refugee camps, in the West Bank and Gaza will receive advice and support in how to limit their vulnerability to the virus. Lord, in your mercy...hear our prayer.
The Kumi Now Online Initiative is encouraging its supporters to join in a celebration of the work of young women filmmakers at the Palestinian Arts Night on Tuesday, the 4th of August. It will also be an opportunity to hear some of the women from the Shashat Women Cinema being interviewed.
Dear Lord, we thank you for the way filmmakers, especially women, are able to use their artistic gifts to show memorable images and tell stories which express the sufferings of the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation. Lord, in your mercy...hear our prayer.
On Friday, the 31st of July, more than 27,000 Palestinian Muslims attended the Eid al-Adha prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. All worshippers were required to wear face masks, bring their own prayer mats and observe social distancing. The East Jerusalem compound is a holy site in Islam and non-Muslim worship is prohibited there. Despite this understanding, groups of Jewish settlers, under armed guard, attempted to force their way into the compound on the previous day to commemorate Tisha B’Av the Jewish holiday.
Dear Lord, we pray that those living in Jerusalem will treat each other with respect and consideration and that all faiths have the freedom and opportunity to pray without threat in their holy places. We pray that these disruptive settler intrusions into the compound in Jerusalem will cease. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.
Three of Banksy’s paintings, which originally hung in The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, have been sold by Sotheby’s in London. The triptych of paintings references the migrant refugee crisis in Europe over the past decade. The auction of the triptych raised £2.2 million which Banksy is donating to the building of a new acute stroke unit and for equipment for children for the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation Hospital.
Lord, we are thankful for the generous donation of funds towards the healthcare needs of those living in Bethlehem. We are also mindful of the discrimination exercised by the Israeli authorities who fully fund the Israeli healthcare system, while leaving the Palestinian system underfunded and dependent on support from abroad. Lord, we pray for an end to this injustice. Lord, in your mercy...hear our prayer.
The Joint Advocacy Initiative (run by the East Jerusalem YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine), have set up a training program for Palestinian secondary school students between the ages of 15 and 16 years old. They have linked up students from different backgrounds, some from a youth group in the Dhaisha Refugee Camp, some from the Melkite Catholic School in Beit Sahour, and some from the Al- Khader Village Secondary School for Girls. So far forty students have joined the program and have attended two sessions. Students will have an opportunity to improve their advocacy and presentation skills and learn about how the occupation is affecting their lives in different ways.
Lord, we are thankful for this imaginative new initiative to help young Palestinians from different backgrounds to gain an insight into each other’s lives and aspirations. We pray that this shared experience will encourage them to gain in confidence and show them ways in which they might serve and strengthen their own communities. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.
Following their arrest and interrogation last week Suhail Khoury and his wife Rania Elias from the National Conservatory of Music and Yabous Cultural Centre, released a statement in Arabic and English. The statement called “on all Human Rights Organizations and UNESCO as well as the European Union and Representatives of Consulates and Diplomats to support these organizations in Jerusalem and to hold to account the occupying forces for their daily violations of the rights of the Palestinians and their organizations and to stop all attacks on scholars, artists, and musicians and those involved in the cultural life.”
Lord, we pray that organizations and individuals around the world will heed the call from Suhail and Rania. We pray that violations will cease, and that scholars, artists, and musicians can be free to express their art and promote their culture around the world. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.
We join with the World Council of Churches in their prayers for the countries of the Cameroon, the Central African Republic and Equatorial Guinea. Lord, in your mercy...hear our prayer.