Monday, February 22, 2010

IDF Teargasses Sunday Mass

Some 100 people gathered at Ush Ghrab in Beit Sahour to pray for peace and protest the planned military presence there. As we were gathering in peaceful contemplation and prayer, Israeli army jeeps quickly rolled in between us and one officer barked orders in Hebrew. We explained to them in Arabic and English that we do not understand Hebrew (later we realized they also knew Arabic and English) but they immediately started throwing concussion grenades and tear gas at the elderly, women, children, the priest doing the prayer, other town people and internationals (Christians and Muslims).

A translator who reviewed our video footage later in the day said that their orders meant we have one minute to disperse! The priest's words, delivered as the army was attacking, was to plead to God to teach us to live in dignity based on morality and speak out for what is right (then we gave the Lord's prayer together). But considering the unusual circumstances, we persisted and succeeded in holding our ground.

One image captured on video that sticks out in my mind is Issa, which is Arabic for Jesus, holding his child in his arms while kicking the teargas canister. His other child had started crying with the noise of a concussion grenade. Mazin Qumsiyeh

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