The Palestinian Authority imposed a new Covid-19 lockdown on Friday, the 3rd of July, which has been extended for a further two weeks with enhanced restrictions. 472 new cases of coronavirus were announced on the 6th of July and there have now been 17 deaths in the occupied Palestinian Territories. The Palestinian Authority has called for the closure of border crossings and for a clampdown on any large gatherings, including weddings and funerals. Israel has recorded more than 330 deaths due to the virus.
Lord, the Covid-19 virus continues to be a cause of great concern and suffering in Israel/Palestine and in many other countries. We pray for wisdom for all those in authority who have to take measures to try to contain infection and yet enable people to earn their livelihoods. We pray for those families in Israel/Palestine and around the world who have lost loved ones to the virus. Lord, in your mercy...hear our prayer.
In Week 39 of the Kumi Now Initiative (Tuesday,14th July) representatives from Zochrot and other organisations explained the connection between the right of return and the Jewish National Fund which hides and erases the remains of Palestinian villages in Israel. In Week 40, Father Elias Chacour, (Archbishop emeritus and writer of ‘Blood Brothers’) and other guests will speak about the barriers to education experienced by Palestinian children.
Lord, we thank you for the way that technology can be used to help people around the world understand about the inequalities faced by Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. We pray for those who hear the webinars, that they may shine as lights before others (Matt 5:16) and expose the many injustices they discover. Lord, in your mercy...hear our prayer.
Local clergy from Bethlehem released a joint statement on the 7th of July about the planned annexation of the occupied West Bank. They represent the church communities of the Roman Catholics, the Melkite Catholics, the Greek Orthodox, and the Lutherans. They made it clear that such a move by the Israeli authorities would be the last straw for maintaining any viable Christian presence in the Holy Land, as many more Palestinians would be forced to emigrate.
Lord Jesus, the town of Bethlehem where you were born is now hemmed in on many sides by the separation wall and illegal settlements. It is overcrowded and there is no room for it to grow. We pray for our brothers and sisters in Palestine as they try to raise their families and for their pastoral leaders as they try to care for their church communities under occupation. Lord, so many Palestinian families here and elsewhere live under constant pressure and threat of harassment and eviction in the Holy Land. We pray that the illegal plan of annexation will not be implemented. Lord, in your mercy...hear our prayer.
On Monday, the 6th of July, Sadi Gharabli from Shajayeh in northern Gaza died of cancer in prison. The Israeli Prison Service (IPS) refused appeals to move him to the Ramla Prison Clinic for treatment. Sadi had served 26 years of his life sentence for resisting the occupation, 12 of those years in solitary confinement. The Palestinian Detainees Commission claim that his death in custody was a case of medical negligence and that he was one of 68 Palestinians who have died in Israeli prisons since 1967 due to such neglect.
Dear Lord, we pray for the family of Sadi as they grieve their loss. We pray that the IPS would observe their duty to care for the health and welfare of their prisoners, including those serving long sentences. Lord, in your mercy...hear our prayer.
Jewish settlers from the Yitzhar settlement in the occupied Palestinian Territories set fire to olive groves south of Burin, near Nablus on Wednesday, July the 8th. The fires destroyed dozens of olive trees. Meanwhile Israeli forces uprooted more than 200 olive trees near Yasuf village, north of Salfit. There are now 150 illegal settlements in the West Bank with about 500,000 Jewish settlers. Some of the more extreme settlers subject Palestinian farmers to frequent and violent attacks. These attacks are rarely prosecuted by the Israeli authorities.
Lord, we pray for the Palestinians living near the settlements who suffer harassment and destructive raids. We pray for an end to this violence and intimidation. We pray for an end to the occupation and a way forward which would bring peace, justice and stability to Israel/ Palestine. Lord, in your mercy...hear our prayer.
The results of the Palestinian Tawjihi (leavers exams) were released on Saturday 11th July and many young people are now graduating and looking to the future.
We pray for the thousands of young people who are celebrating their achievement and we remember the students who did not reach their target grades. May the students of Palestine use their education to better their communities and to strengthen the society in which they live. Lord in your mercy…hear our prayer.
We join with the World Council of Churches in their prayers for the countries of Djibouti and Somalia. Lord, in your mercy...hear our prayer.