Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - The main cause and primary context of the perpetuation of violence in the Holy Land is "the occupation of Palestine", an occupation that "has been going on for fifty-five years". The Justice and Peace Commission of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem clearly and directly emphasizes this in a document released as a contribution to the reflection on the latest spiral of violence that hit the land where Jesus lived his earthly life. The document, sent to Fides, represents a close examination of the recent bloody events that have marked the news of recent months in Israel and Palestine, retraced in the light of the recent and long-standing causes that have fueled pain and mourning among the peoples of the Holy Land. "In our attempt to understand the root of this violence" remark the writers of the document - we in no way seek to justify it, however understanding is the only way to begin to find a way out of this deadly cycle".
The reflection offered by the Jerusalem Justice and Peace Commission takes its cue from the killing of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh killed in Jenin on May 11 by Israeli military forces: a "daughter of our Christian community" known throughout the region as a journalist for Al-Jazeera (see Fides, 12/5/2022). Even the aggression exercised by the Israeli police against the funeral procession carrying Shireen's coffin to the church - reads the Justice and Peace document - "left us stunned". But the document also recalls that the violence during the funeral of the Palestinian journalist is only the latest painful episode of a spiral of violence that has recently bloodied the Holy Land, with murders and attacks.
In the past two months, forty-five Palestinians, sixteen Israelis and two migrant workers have been killed in what has been termed “a new cycle violence”. A silent massacre perpetrated above all in Palestine, but which also involved the Israeli territory, where fifteen Israelis were killed in attacks by Palestinians. The document of the Commission linked to the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem reiterates that "as long as the conflict between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs continues, as long as there is no justice, no equality and no peace in the Holy Land, no sincere engagement to end the conflict, death will continue to be victorious. As long as a regime of military occupation continues to be imposed on those who live in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and as long as a regime of discrimination continues to be administered within the State of Israel, there will be no end to the cycle of violence".
In a key passage of the document, dedicated to describing the root causes of the violence, the writers of the document note that many analyzes "attribute the violence to Palestinian, Arab or Islamic ideologies that reject Israel, Israelis and even Jews. However, these acts of violence must be analyzed first and foremost within the context of the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict" and "needs to be repeated with unequivocal clarity: the root cause and primary context of the violence is the occupation of Palestine, an occupation that has gone on for fifty-five years".
The violence of the occupation recalled in the Justitia et Pax Jerusalem document includes "land expropriation, administrative detention, the withholding of building permits, house demolitions, the restriction of movement, the stifling of political, social and economic development and the ongoing siege of the Gaza Strip". The document also refers to the tensions in the holy city of Jerusalem that continue to aggravate the situation and escalate the levels of tension, and include "the constant threats to the status quo in the Haram al-Sharif (also known as the Temple Mount), the stifling restrictions on access to the Holy Places (for Christians this was again underlined this past Orthodox Saturday of Light, Holy Saturday), and the ongoing attempts to claim properties in occupied East Jerusalem, resulting in the eviction of people from their homes to be given to settlers, particularly in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan". Much of the violence to which Palestinians are victims - the document points out - is carried out by Israeli settlers and their activist groups, who occupy Palestinian lands and live illegally in the territories occupied by Israel. Even the so-called "Abrahamic Agreements" between Israel and some Arab countries, promoted by the US administration under the Trump presidency, end up contributing to the sense of frustration that feeds further violence. Those agreements, in the name of peace, bring Israel closer to countries with which in reality the Jewish state "has no conflicts". They "pursue common regional interests like opposition to Iran and economic and military collaboration. However, the accords blatantly ignore the real conflict in Israel/Palestine and the rights of the Palestinians. For the Palestinians, this adds insult to injury, reinforcing their feeling that, in the eyes of Israel and the powerful in the international community, they do not exist". The new international scenarios opened by the conflict in Ukraine - add the drafters of the document - also ended up underlining the asymmetry of the reactions of the international community in the face of different situations of conflict: "As soon as Russia invaded the Ukraine, the international community, led by the United States, condemned the invasion and far-reaching sanctions were imposed by many countries including the United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom in order to pressure the Russian regime to withdraw from Ukrainian territory and cease its aggression. Many Palestinians compare these recent events with the decades of conflict in their own homeland. Israel has occupied Palestinian territory since 1967 and has imposed a discriminatory regime of inequality on Palestinians within Israel since 1948. However, those most vocal in condemning Russian aggression have done little to denounce Israeli occupation and discrimination. This double standard has only sharpened Palestinian frustration and despair". In the concluding part, the document calls on the Israeli authorities to objectively seek out "the reasons for the violence that engulfs us all. Responding to violence with violence, a logic of never-ending reprisal, is not the answer. Israel and Palestine have the same rights: the rights to security, freedom, dignity and self-determination. Violence will not end until these rights are realized for both Israelis and Palestinians". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 19/5/2022)