Statement on the attack on Palestinians of Jerusalem

Friends of Sabeel North America

On Sunday, February 25, church leaders from the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic churches in Jerusalem shut down the Church of the Holy Sepulcher until further notice. They did so in protest of a new municipal law demanding that church leaders pay over $190 million to the state of Israel in back taxes on church properties that were formerly tax exempt.

More information on the new law

The new law is part of an ongoing campaign to target and push out Palestinians in the holy city of Jerusalem. We stand with these church leaders in their boycott of this gross injustice, which is meant to make it more difficult if not impossible for Palestinian Christians to continue to live in Jerusalem. Sacred lands are never for sale. We raise outcry over the mass displacement of all Palestinians, whether Muslim or Christian, from Jerusalem. We support the leadership of the churches in boycotting injustice, and we call on church leaders around the world to follow their lead, heeding international calls for boycott, divestment, and sanctions on Israel until it complies with basic standards of international law and ends its decades long campaign to wipe out the indigenous Palestinian population.

Statements From Church Leaders in Jerusalem



The leaders of Jerusalem’s churches have today announced the unprecedented decision to close the Church of the Holy Sepulchre until further notice, in protest at persistent moves to intimidate Christians and discriminate against churches in the Holy Land. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which dates back to the fourth century, is considered to contain the sites of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, making it the holiest site in the world for Christians.

The decision to close the Holy Sepulchre comes in response to recent actions by the Jerusalem Municipality and by members of the Israeli Knesset. The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, is attempting to enforce a punitive and retroactive tax on church properties in the Holy City. Furthermore, Knesset member, Rachel Azaria (“Kulanu” party)  is seeking to advance the “Bill of Church Lands”, which would give the Israeli government the power to confiscate church property. These actions contravene the long held Status Quo which is foundational to the guarantee of the churches’ rights and privileges in the Holy Land; and critically undermines the ability of churches to carry out their pastoral mission of housing the community, feeding the poor, caring for refugees, running schools for local children and maintaining the holy sites. Above all, they imperil the continuation of the Christian presence in Jerusalem. 

The closure was announced on Sunday by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, the Catholic Custos of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarch. Their joint statement argues that ‘the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land’ has ‘reached an unprecedented level as the Jerusalem municipality issued scandalous collection notices and orders of seizure of Church assets, properties and bank accounts for alleged debts of punitive municipal taxes.’  The statement also highlights the ‘discriminatory and racist bill that targets solely the properties of the Christian community in the Holy Land.’ 

Both developments come in a period when Christians are suffering an escalating campaign of intimidation from radical settler groups. Churches face daily desecration and vandalism and Christians are regularly subjected to violent assault as they travel to pray. These groups have long used intimidation, bribery and extreme anti-social behaviour in an attempt to force Christians and other non-Jews out of the Holy City. While their actions clearly contravene Israeli law their crimes go largely unchecked.

Statement on Municipal threats and the discriminatory “Church Lands Bill” 25.02.2018

We, the heads of Churches in charge of the Holy Sepulcher and the Status Quo governing the various Christian Holy Sites in Jerusalem – the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, the Custody of the Holy Land and the Armenian Patriarchate – are following with great concern the systematic campaign against the Churches and the Christian community in the Holy Land, in flagrant violation of the existing Status Quo.

Recently, this systematic and offensive campaign has reached an unprecedented level as the Jerusalem municipality issued scandalous collection notices and orders of seizure of Church assets, properties and bank accounts for alleged debts of punitive municipal taxes. A step that is contrary to the historic position of the Churches within the Holy City of Jerusalem and their relationship with the civil authorities. These actions breach existing agreements and international obligations which guarantee the rights and the privileges of the Churches, in what seems as an attempt to weaken the Christian presence in Jerusalem. The greatest victims in this are those impoverished families who will go without food and housing, as well as the children who will be unable to attend school.

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Demolishing Palestinian schools ‘a quiet population transfer’

Orly Noy, +972, January 24, 2018

By destroying schools in Palestinian villages in Area C and elsewhere, Israel is forcing Palestinians to make a cruel choice — between their land and their children’s futures.

Students sit in a classroom at school in the Jahalin Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar, West Bank, February 22, 2017. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/ sit in a classroom at school in the Jahalin Bedouin community of Khan Al-Ahmar, West Bank, February 22, 2017. (Faiz Abu Rmeleh/

When the children of Beit Ta’mar, a village south-east of Bethlehem, left their improvised schoolhouse for winter vacation about two weeks ago, they did not know if the building would still be standing when they came back.

To call the building a school is to exaggerate. It is comprised of five concrete rooms on the top of a hill, constructed by the village’s residents, who also built the road to the school.

“Last August, we asked the army for permission to build a school for the children in the village,” Hassan Brigiah says on our way to the site. “We didn’t receive an answer, and after we talked with a lawyer, we decided to set up six caravans to serve as classrooms. The army came and dismantled the caravans. While they were doing this I said to them, ‘but you didn’t give us an answer at all!’ It didn’t help. We decided to build a few classrooms out of concrete, and in the meantime, a lawyer managed to get an order to prevent them from being demolished until the government gives us an answer.”

The army has since provided an answer—negative, as expected. The reasons, as always, are technical and bureaucratic. Ever since, the threat of demolition has hung over the improvised first through third-grade classrooms. The Palestinian Authority provided tables and chairs, which is noted on a plaque. “We’ll build the homeland with the power of knowledge,” is spray painted on one of the walls.

The school is located in Area C, but close to Area B, in the West Bank, under Palestinian civil control, and entirely on privately owned land, Birgiah says, adding that the construction was financed by the villagers themselves.

“We are very close to Tekoa and Noqdim, where [Defense Minister] Liberman lives,” Birgiah adds. “They have a lot of influence on the government. Nearly every day, the settlers stand on the hill overlooking the school and survey our children with binoculars. The army is also here all the time, walking around, taking pictures, and leaving. They want to show us that they’re here, so that we’ll continue to live in fear.”

In general, the sense is that schools and educational institutions have become a hot target for the army across the West Bank.

About a month ago, the army issued a demolition order against the fourth-grade classroom in a school in the community of A-Nawer, near the settlement of Maale Adumim. On October 7, 2017, the army confiscated the doors of the two schoolhouses there. According to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, last summer Israeli troops declared the school a closed military zone and confiscated the solar panels that powered the school.

A day before the first day of the school year in the West Bank this past year, soldiers demolished a school in the village of Job a-Dib , leaving 80 students with nowhere to learn. The school was comprised of six caravans, which the army dismantled and confiscated. As Eli Bitan reported, during the demolition the army used stun grenades against residents.

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NPR: Israel Bans Activities In Jerusalem Connected To Palestinian Authority Government

You might want to write NPR thanking them and encouraging more coverage that includes Palestinian voices in their stories. NPR has been pro-Israel since the Second Intifada, when their attempt at evenhanded coverage incensed Zionists who threatened a national campaign to withhold donations. — Barbara Olson

All Things Considered, January 19, 2018

Palestinians still have aspirations for a capital in part Jerusalem. National political institutions could strengthen Palestinian claims in the city, but for decades Israel has worked to limit those.



President Trump has recognized Jerusalem as the capital Israel, but that doesn’t change Palestinian aspirations for a capital in part of the city. One thing that could strengthen these Palestinian claims would be national political institutions. NPR’s Daniel Estrin looks at how Israel has worked for decades to limit those institutions, whether they’re offices for leadership or even performances in theaters.

DANIEL ESTRIN, BYLINE: This used to be the Palestinian headquarters in Jerusalem – an old, stone mansion called the Orient House. Foreign diplomats were received here. The Palestinian flag used to fly. But Israel closed it in 2001 during a wave of Palestinian bombings. Israeli authorities deliver a new closure order every six months. It’s on the door for everyone to see.

And they just…


ESTRIN: …Put it right here on the door.

BUDEIRI: Put it right here and go.

ESTRIN: Ishaq Budeiri heads the Arab Studies Society, which was based in the same building. His library of historical archives is locked inside. He has no access. I give the dusty windows a spit shine and peer in.

Oh, I see some books on the shelf.

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New Palestine 101 video! – US Campaign for Palestinian Rights

Anna Baltzer, US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, 29 Nov 2017

Have you ever heard anyone say that the issue of Palestine/Israel is “complicated?” We have, and now there is a video to debunk it.

Today, on the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People and the 70th anniversary of the United Nation’s (UN) partition of Palestine, we are releasing a short video showing what Palestinians and their allies have known all along: it’s not that complicated.

Watch, and then share, Palestine 101: Not That Complicated on Facebook and Twitter.

The state of affairs – apartheid – on the ground in Palestine/Israel today is not too complicated to understand. It is, quite simply, a continuation of the ongoing and unwavering process of Zionist settler colonization.

70 years ago today, the UN proposed partitioning Palestine against the will of the native Palestinian population, emboldening Zionist militias to create a Jewish state by force, including through the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. Today is just one of four significant anniversaries for Palestinians this year: 2017 also marked 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, 50 years since the beginning of Israel’s illegal military occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and ten years since the imposition of the siege on Gaza. All of those anniversaries point to the undisguised settler colonial nature of the Zionist project.

Palestine 101: Not That Complicated can help folks both familiar and unfamiliar with the issue understand the ongoing process of Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine, and the legacy of Palestinian resistance to the colonization of their homeland.

You can learn more about the dynamic history of that same Palestinian resistance on Dec. 9. On the 35th anniversary of the 1987 intifada, we are hosting a webinar that will cover the rich history of Palestinian resistance, from the general strike of 1936 to hiding cows from Israeli soldiers in 1987.

From the Arab Revolt to the Intifadas to BDS: 100+ Years of Palestinian Resistance
Saturday, Dec. 9 | 10:00 AM PT / 1:00 PM ET
Register here!

Featuring Dr. Mazin Qumsiyeh, author of Popular Resistance in Palestine: A History of Hope and Empowerment, Nadia Hijab of Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, and Abdulrahman Abunahel, Gaza Regional Coordinator for the BDS National Committee

Both the video and webinar are part of Together We Rise: Palestine as a Model of Resistance, our political education curriculum designed to provide critical voices, context, and resources to strengthen liberation struggles from the US to Palestine. Together We Rise includes 101 resources on Palestine, skill-building tools, outlines how US and Israeli colonialism and racism are connected, and what we can learn from Palestinian, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and other freedom struggles.

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Israel no longer bothers with the illusion of legal proceedings

Israel is so confident of its ability to expel Palestinian communities that it no longer even bothers to create the illusion of legal proceedings

B’Tselem, November 22, 2017

Over the past month, the state has informed three Palestinian communities that it intends to expel them from their homes and land. The notification was made by leaving orders on the roadside.

In the northern Jordan Valley, on 9 November 2017 the state notified two communities – Umm a-Jamal and Ein al-Hilweh – that they must leave their homes within eight days. These communities total 20 families, five of whom live in the area on a seasonal basis. The total number of residents is 130, including 66 youths and children under the age of 18.

In the Ma’ale Adumim area, on 16 November 2017 the state informed the residents of Jabal al-Baba that they must leave their homes within eight days. This community numbers about 60 families, and has a total of 284 residents, including 151 youths and children under the age of 18.

Israel has acted for years to expel communities around the West Bank. In the past, its efforts were based mainly on military orders concerning planning and building. However, the proceedings concerning such orders are protracted and require the precise mapping of the land and buildings, as well as the issuing of separate demolition orders for each building.

Now the state has found a new mechanism it hopes will enable it to circumvent such proceedings and accelerate the expulsion of residents: the “Order concerning Unauthorized Buildings (Temporary Provision) (Judea and Samaria) (No. 1539), 5744-2003.” This order was originally intended for the expulsion of settlers from “outposts” established around the West Bank, although the state very rarely used it for this purpose. The order allows the Military Commander to declare an area in the West Bank a “confined area,” and to order the eviction of all property in that area. On this basis of this order, GOC Central Command Major-General Roni Numa signed the new orders concerning the Palestinian communities.

It seems that Israel is so confident in its ability to expel entire villages without incurring judicial or international criticism that it is no longer bothering to create even the illusion of legal proceedings. However, the difference between the proceedings is purely technical. The planning and building proceedings never stopped the state; even if they managed to postpone expulsion, they never removed the threat of expulsion from thousands of people. Over many years, thousands of Palestinians in dozens of communities have lived under a constant and real threat. The state has refused to regulate their status, allow them to connect to the water and electricity infrastructure, establish educational institutions for their children, pave roads to their living areas, and maintain a reasonable living routine.

The state has recently declared its intention to expel two additional communities over the coming months – Susiya in the southern Hebron Hills and Khan al-Ahmar close to Ma’ale Adumim. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that in the absence of opposition from the American Administration, these communities will be expelled by April 2018. The expulsion proceedings against these communities have continued for years before the Supreme Court, which has refrained from prohibiting their expulsion.

Whatever the proceedings used by the state in its attempt to expel Palestinian residents from their homes, the crime is the same: the forcible transfer of a protected population, which amounts to a war crime. This is the case whether the violence used is direct or indirect, physical or administrative. Whether the expulsion is undertaken by force or by creating an intolerable reality that forces the residents to leave their homes and land – the essence is the same. All those involved in committing this crime – including the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, the justices who approve the expulsion, and the GOC who signs the orders – bear personal liability.

For additional information: Amit Gilutz, +972-54-6841126,
Our mailing address is
B’Tselem, The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories
P.O. Box 53132, Jerusalem 9153002

Thousands Of Israelis Take To The Streets Calling For Palestinian Genocide

A reporter at the scene remarked that it seemed “more like a celebration of murder than anything.”

Whitney Webb, MintPress News, October 6, 2016

The Tel Aviv rally—organized to support an Israeli soldier who murdered a wounded Palestinian by shooting him in the head as the victim lay on his back—was marked by chants and banners calling for mass murder.The Tel Aviv rally — organized to support an Israeli soldier who murdered a wounded Palestinian by shooting him in the head as the victim lay on his back — was marked by chants and banners calling for mass murder.

Massive rallies and Facebook campaigns calling for Palestinian genocide are ignored by Western mainstream media and Facebook despite concerns and collaborations aimed at stopping “calls to violence”.

Since last October, the Israeli government has accused Palestinians and their allies of “inciting violence” against Israelis, despite the fact that only 34 Israelis have died in that time frame compared to 230 Palestinians. The uptick in violence has been attributed to an internationally condemned Israeli encroachment of Palestinian lands in the contested West Bank.

Israeli government concern over recent violence has led them to arrest Palestinians for social media content that could potentially lead to crimes. So far, 145 Palestinians have been arrested this year for “pre-crime” via social media “incitement.” This practice eventually led to a collaboration between Facebook and the Israeli government, whose joint effort to curb social media “incitement” has led to the banning of several Facebook accounts of Palestinian journalists and news agencies.

However, social media, as well as mainstream Western media, have failed to condemn Israeli “incitement” against Palestinians, a practice that is surprisingly common considering the little to no attention it receives. Often these anti-Palestinian posts, pictures, and rallies are rife with calls for genocide, with cries of “Death to the whole Arab nation” and “Kill them all” surprisingly common.

Even the Times of Israel ran an op-ed article about “When Genocide is Permissible” in reference to Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. Though the post was eventually taken down, it points to an all-too-common and dangerous mentality that social media, the Israeli government, and Western media “conveniently” ignore.

An Israeli news agency even put the then-suspected preferential treatment to the test and found that Facebook and the Israeli authorities treated calls for revenge from Palestinians and Israelis very differently.

Even massive rallies calling for Palestinian genocide have been ignored entirely by social media and the corporate press. Earlier this year in April, a massive anti-Palestinian rally took place in Tel Aviv where thousands called for the death of all Arabs. The rally was organized to support an Israeli soldier who killed an already-wounded Palestinian by shooting him execution-style in the head.

A Policy of Displacement

Visualizing Palestine, September 2012

“‘Policy of Displacement’ focuses on the Israeli government’s widespread practice of demolishing Palestinian homes in the West Bank and Gaza since 1967. The data for the graphic draws primarily on research by the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). The graphic was first published by Al Jazeera English on 28 August, two days after the verdict on Rachel Corrie’s case. It served as a reminder of the outrage home demolitions spur, both within Palestinians and among the international community. This was our first release by a major media outlet.”

Click on image for full screen, & scroll up & down with mouse. [Esc] to return.

Sources and Data
ICAHD, 2012. The Judaization of Palestine: Displacement Trends in 2011 (PDF)
ICAHD, 2010. Statistics on House Demolitions (1967-2010). (accessed on 6 April 2012)
UN OCHA, 2009. Locked In: The Humanitarian Impact of Two Years of Blockade on the Gaza Strip (PDF)
ICAHD, 2011. No Home, No Homeland: A New Normative Framework for Examining the Practice of Administrative Home Demolitions in East Jerusalem (PDF)
Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, 2011.The state of Palestine (accessed on 17 July 2012)
ICAHD-USA, 2006. Israel’s Policy of Displacement. (accessed on 9 August 2012)