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Israeli Oppressive Policies In West Bank Target Not Only Muslims But Also Christians, Says Clergyman

03.04.2024 21:42

'My life, like that of other Palestinians, has become a nightmare as a result of Israel's actions after October 7,' priest at Church of the Virgin Mary Father Talat Avad tells Anadolu Christians and Muslims can coexist peacefully with anyone who seeks peace, regardless of religion or ethnic...

Since the beginning of attacks on the Gaza Strip on Oct. 7, Israel has increased its oppressive policies throughout the occupied West Bank, targeting not only Muslims but also Christians.

"My life, like that of other Palestinians, has become a nightmare as a result of Israel's actions after October 7," Father Talat Avad, a priest at the Church of the Virgin Mary in Abud village in the west of Ramallah, told Anadolu.

Avad said the entrance to their village following the Gaza attacks, forced them to rely on dirt roads for commutation and transportation.

"We are suffering greatly as a result of the closure of the village entrance and constant searches at checkpoints. We waste a lot of time as a result of Israeli (security force) treatment. The village's entrance is secured by an iron gate. We can't even approach the gate for fear of being shot at by Israeli security forces at the checkpoints," he explained.

'I have never felt such oppression in my life'

Avad said villagers who used to travel different routes to reach the village now use a dirt road on the western side.

The road, which runs alongside an Israeli wall built to protect a nearby Jewish settlement, poses significant risks and raises tensions among its users, according to him.

Despite the road's unsuitability for vehicle passage, he insisted that long trucks, transport vehicles, and buses use it due to potholes, rocks, and soil partitions.

He also expressed concern over the potential for Jewish settlers to stone villagers' vehicles on the road.

"Only God knows the best. Today they are throwing stones at vehicles; tomorrow they may use the weapons provided by their ministers," he said.

"I have never felt such oppression in my life," the Palestinian priest said, emphasizing that the Palestinians' suffering is unparalleled.

One of the oldest 3 churches in the world

They prayed for peace, Avad said, adding that they have no ill will toward anyone and that "even Israel despises what they do."

He said his church, one of the three oldest in the world, has been in continuous worship for 1,700 years.

Their village is home to 2,300 Palestinians, half of whom are Christians, he said, emphasizing that Christians and Muslims can coexist peacefully with anyone who seeks peace, regardless of religion or ethnic origin.

Permission not granted for Christian faithful

With Israel's current oppressive tactic, the priest is concerned that Israel will impose restrictions on Christians visiting churches during Easter festivities.

He said crowded Christian groups will be denied entry into Jerusalem due to security concerns.

"If permission is not granted for worship, it would not be acceptable. Roads should be opened for those who want to worship," said the priest, noting that Muslims are also barred from entering Jerusalem to worship at the Al-Aqsa mosque.

1,156 attacks in West Bank, with 140 security checkpoints

On March 30, Mueyyed Shaban, president of the Anti-Wall and Settlement Committee affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), reported 1,156 attacks in the West Bank since the Gaza attacks began, resulting in 12 Palestinian civilian deaths.

Shaban added that the current situation has forced 1,277 people from 220 Palestinian families, including 25 Bedouin communities, to migrate since the Gaza attacks on Oct. 7, 2023.

According to him, over the last six months, Israel has seized 27,000 dunams (27 square kilometers) of Palestinian land in the West Bank under the guise of securing Jews.

Shaban cited Israeli occupation forces as destroying 9,600 trees, mostly olive trees, fragmenting Palestinian lands in the West Bank, and setting up 840 military barriers or checkpoints along transit routes, 140 of which were established after Oct. 7.

*Writing by Gizem Nisa Cebi in Istanbul -

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