Christians in Palestine request prayer for nuns of the Coptic Orthodox church and convent in Bethlehem. On 11th July there will be a court hearing related to an attack on the nuns, who are involved in long-running property disputes.

The Coptic Orthodox church has owned the property, a number of buildings over an ancient cave, since 1948. In 1998 an elderly blind Palestinian woman was given a room on the property, but her son Rami, daughter Raniye and another daughter took advantage, moved in and took over more of the property, breaking down walls and extending “their” living quarters without permission. The church filed a complaint but a judge dropped the case in 2015 due to “lack of evidence”. The case has now been referred to a higher court.

In 2005 the family had wanted a nun called Sister Maria, who had filed the complaint, to drop the case, and attacked her. Armed with a stick, Raniye knocked Maria to the ground and tried to hit her on the head but was stopped by neighbours.

On 30th April 2017 Raniye opened a door from “their” quarters into a convent storeroom and started building a wall to join the storeroom to “their” apartment. This was discovered by Maria, who happened to be accompanied by a university professor and a workman. The professor told Maria to take photos with her phone but Raniye attacked Maria and tried to break the phone. Raniye grabbed the tools belonging to the workman and ran back into “her” house.

The nuns called the police. A policeman arrived and asked the professor, the workman, Maria and a nun called Sister Esther to make a statement at the police station. They set off in Esther’s car but Rami and his friend cut in front of them, came with iron bars and a carjack, hit the car and threatened those inside. The assailants were unaware of the presence of the policeman, who made himself known and stopped the attack. The nuns and those accompanying them continued to the police station and filed a complaint.

On 11th July there will be a hearing regarding the attack on the nuns and others in the car. It is hoped this case will help further other court cases regarding the property disputes.

MAY BE CIRCULATED TO GENERAL MAILING LISTS, OUTSIDE ORGANISATIONS, AND QUOTED FROM FREELY IN REPORTS CITING “MIDDLE EAST CONCERN” AS THE SOURCE OF THE INFORMATION.

 

Prayer points

Please pray:

a. that the judiciary of the Palestinian Authorities will examine the case impartially, and those guilty of the criminal acts described will be brought to justice and will repent of what they have done

b. for clarity regarding the ownership of the property

c. for the safety of the nuns and others involved

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