Latin patriarch asks Hamas leader to end suicide attacks

By Ha'aretz Service and The Associated Press

 

A delegation of Christian clerics led by Jerusalem patriarch Michel Sabbah made a rare call Saturday on the spiritual leader of the militant Hamas movement, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, in a bid to stop suicide bombings against Israeli targets.

With the two-hour meeting at Yassin's house, the patriarch was attempting to revive consultations among Palestinian leaders to seek an end to the attacks, said a Patriarchate official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

There had been speculation that Palestinian militant groups were on the verge of declaring an end to suicide attacks before a July 23 air strike on Gaza City that killed the leader of the military wing of Hamas, Salah Shehadeh and 14 others, among them nine children. The impending declaration was apparently called off in the wake of the attack and all consultations put on hold.

Hamas claimed responsibility for the subsequent bombing at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, in which seven people, including five American citizens, were killed and for the suicide bombing on an Egged bus in the north of Israel, in which nine people died. The group said the attacks were retaliation for the killing of Shehadeh.

Sabbah was the first Palestinian to hold the senior church post in Israel. He has frequently criticized the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and said that Palestinian violence would not end until Israel withdrew to the borders it held before the 1967 Six-Day War.

"We are not seeking promises from any human being, we are hearing and making dialogue with everyone and depend on God and our Lord Jesus Christ," Sabbah told reporters as he left Yassin's house.

Yassin insisted that Hamas could not stop its attacks while Israel continued to carry out punitive policies in Palestinian towns.

"We can't offer any initiative in this time while the Zionist enemy hasn't withdrawn from our land, hasn't freed the prisoners, hasn't stopped building settlements and hasn't stopped demolishing houses," Yassin said.

Among those at the meeting were representatives from the Anglican and Catholic churches, Hamas spokesmen Mahmoud Zahar, Ismail Abu Shanab and Ismail Haniye.

It was the second time the two religious leaders have met. The last meeting took place in 1996 when Sabbah visited Yassin to congratulate him on his release from an Israeli prison.

 

A CALL TO PRAYER FOR PEACE

BY HEADS OF CHURCHES IN JERUSALEM

 

Jesus said: “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you;

                  Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14/27)

 

Very many people in this land are alarmed at the way the situation is moving further into conflict with the hopes for peace and reconciliation being dashed.

 

Bloodshed and violence abounds and sufferings of innocent people is daily intensified.

Already we have made a direct approach to the Prime Minister of Israeli and his colleagues concerning Closure and Curfew which are currently bringing untold hardships to thousands whether it be in regard to employment, the purchase of food supplies, attention to medical needs or the freedom to worship.

 

The picture presented to our children and young people is one of the wholesale dis-regard for human life and dignity as murder, assassination and destruction of homes continue.

 

This in turn is intensifying the desire for revenge on both sides – Israeli and Palestinians alike, whilst at the same time encouraging hatred rather than respect and mutual understanding.

 

We are convinced that God alone can rescue all of us from this intolerable position which is why we are calling upon all our people throughout this Land, to join us in intensifying our prayers for peace, with justice and reconciliation. Hopefully, our Moslem and Jewish friends will feel able to add their prayers too.

 

So, we have arranged a period of daily PRAYER FOR PEACE at 6pm from Thursday, August 15th to Wednesday, August 28th in the churches across the City.

 

We again invite our brothers and sisters around the world to link their prayers with ours at this special time and thank them for their understanding and support.

 

+ The Patriarchs & Heads of Churches

    Communities & Institutions in Jerusalem

 

THE PROGRAMME OF THE DAILY PRAYERS FOR PEACE

AT 6 PM

 

We appeal also to our brothers and Sisters around the world – many of whom have already offered generous support – to link their prayers with ours at this special time according the following proposed program for Jerusalem:

 

Thursday, Aug. 15th                  Armenian Cathedral of St. James,

Old City, Armenian Quarter

Friday, Aug. 16th                      Chapel of Tantur Ecumenical Institute,

Road of Bethlehem

Saturday, Aug. 17th                        Lutheran Church of the Redeemer,

Old City near Holy Sepulcher              

Sunday Aug. 18th                      Greek Catholic Church of Annunciation,

Old City near Jaffa Gate

Monday, Aug. 19th                   St. Andrew’s Church of Scotland,

near Railway Station.

Tuesday, Aug, 20th                   St. James Church,

Nablus Road – Beit Hanina

Wednesday, Aug, 21st              St. Anthony’s Coptic Church,

Old City, near Holy Sepulcher

Thursday, Aug, 22nd                 Dormition Abbey,

Mount Sion     

Friday, Aug, 23rd                      Ethiopian Orthodox Church,

West Jerusalem, off Prophet Street

Saturday, Aug, 24th                  Pater Noster Church

                                                Mount of Olives

Sunday, Aug, 25th                     Anglican Cathedral of St. George,

20, Nablus Road.

Monday, Aug, 26th                   Catholic Syrian Vicariate,

6, Chaldean Street, Nablus Road

Tuesday, Aug, 27th                         St. Mark’s Syrian Orthodox Church,

Old City, near Jaffa Gate                     

Wednesday, Aug, 28th Maronite Vicariate

                                                Old City, near Jaffa Gate

 

Please continue to pray for a just peace & reconciliation to be implemented in this Holy Land.

 

+ The Patriarchs & Heads of Churches,

Communities & Institutions in Jerusalem