Yousef Alkhouri is a Palestinian Christian from Gaza. He is a lecturer at Bethlehem Bible College, though is currently studying in Europe. He visited Canada last year, along with Jack Sara, at the invitation of Mennonite Church Canada. The following is part of a note he sent to Canadian Mennonite on October 14.
My family is in Gaza and has been displaced since the beginning of the Israeli war on Gaza. About 400 Palestinian Christians are sheltering at the Greek Orthodox Church, with almost no water, food and electricity. The Israeli airstrikes are targeting civilians and residential neighborhoods. At least 25 houses that belong to Christian families are destroyed . . . . Israel is also displacing 1.1 million Gazans from the north part of the Strip and has instructed them to move south. While many followed the instruction, the Israeli air force targeted them. Israel is deliberately committing war-crimes and ethnic cleansing, for the lack of a stronger word.
People, including my family, are posting their wills and goodbyes on social media.
Seeing the Canadian government’s endorsement and support of the Israeli war crimes in Gaza is shameful. I also have seen the Canadian media spreading Israeli disinformation and propaganda, which have been dehumanizing and demonizing the Palestinians in order to justify the Israeli crimes.
As a Palestinian Christian, also as Gazan, I believe that the Church has a prophetic mandate to speak up against injustice and war crimes, and to confront those who support and endorse the war crimes legally and hold them accountable.
Please keep praying for Gaza.
Samia Khoury, 89, is co-founder, along with Naim Ateek, of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem. The following is excerpted from a letter she sent to family and friends, including Mennonite Central Committee personnel, on October 16. Used with permission.
Neither Israel nor the international community should have been surprised at the recent events which hurt not only the Israelis, but also the Palestinians, who are under Israeli siege in the Gaza Strip. It has been 75 years of dispossession for the Palestinians, and 56 years of a military occupation, 16 of them in an open-air prison for the people of Gaza. . . .
Those 2.2 million oppressed [Palestinians] under siege [in Gaza] are not “human animals” as they were called by Israel. They are actually humans who have been dehumanized, as if they were children of a lesser God. They have reached a tipping point and could not take the oppression and the deprivation of freedom anymore.
Had the U.S. and the European countries implemented the United Nations Resolutions and stood up against all the violations of Israel ever since its creation in 1948, things would not have deteriorated to that extent. [Western nations] watched [Israelis] kill Palestinian children, raid homes in the middle of the night, demolish homes and evacuate complete Palestinian areas for the establishment of Israeli settlements, with the maximum comment that those actions were not conducive to peace.
But nobody had the guts to take action, not even when Israel demolished a school funded by the European Union.
When the Israeli prime minister showed a map recently at the United Nations that had no Palestine in it, nobody even protested.
But now when the surprise news hit the world that Israelis were attacked and hurt, the U.S. and the European countries who have been at the root cause of the Palestinian dispossession in the first place, came rushing to the region in support of Israel an occupying force in the region.
Ironically, they are the same countries that rushed to salvage Ukraine from the Russian occupation. Is one occupation permissible, while another is not? Enough is enough of double standards.
And please do salvage the trapped Palestinians of Gaza who have been ordered by Israel to move out. Out to where? All the borders are closed.
We know many of you have been praying, but we need action. According to St. James, prayer without action is futile.