A delegation of Bishops from the Holy Land Coordination visiting the construction site of the separation wall in the Cremisan Valley near Bethlehem have been confronted by security forces and instructed to turn back by Israeli authorities.
The Israeli High Court in 2015 ruled that the routes around the wall must avoid the Cremisan’s Salesian monastery and convent but stated that construction through Palestinian farmland to continue. The construction is a section of a wall Israel started building in 2002 citing security concerns. Local farmers and rural people living around the construct area have suffered situations where their land confiscated and their olive trees uprooted by the Israeli military.
The Bishops set off to take a look at the construction area which effects have caused damages to the livelihood of many people. But upon their arrival, they were approached by the Israeli military and stopped from going any further.
Just before they accompanied them away from the construction site, they prayed together for peace and justice in the Holy Land.
Bishop of Cape Town, Bishop Stephen Brislin told journalists at the scene: “It breaks my heart to see what has happened here… we had been here for about five minutes just to have a look and compare with last year before the police came and it just reminded me so much of apartheid times, the type of intimidation, the exhibition of power.
“We can’t blame these particular soldiers, they are part of a system and it’s not the individuals who must be seen as enemies. It’s the policy that we must see as something that needs to be changed.
“It’s the same with apartheid where individuals involved in the oppression were caught up in the system, and when the system changed there was the chance to build a more just and open society, he added.