Palestinian Christians request renewed prayer for nuns of the Coptic Orthodox church and convent in Bethlehem involved in legal action over a property dispute. The family that has misappropriated convent property continues its aggressive stance, and has filed a complaint against one of the nuns, falsely accusing her of physical assault.
In the 1980’s an elderly blind Palestinian woman was given a room on the church property adjacent to the convent, but in 1998 her family moved in and took over more of the property by breaking into the convent. The church filed a complaint but a judge dropped the case in 2015 due to “lack of evidence”. The case was referred to a higher court.
On 30th April 2017 the nuns called the police after a physical assault by Rania, the granddaughter of the original occupant (the blind Palestinian lady). A policeman arrived and asked the nuns and two witnesses to make a statement at the police station. As they were on the way by car to the police station, two men cut in front of them and started hitting the nuns’ car with a metal bar and car jack. The assailants were unaware of the presence of the policeman inside the car, who made himself known and stopped the attack. The nuns and those accompanying them continued to the police station and filed a complaint. A court hearing was set for 11th July, but was re-scheduled for 10th October.
On 11th September, Rania filed a complaint against Sister Maria (the nun who had been assaulted) accusing her of physical assault. The Civil Court in Bethlehem has set a date for 31st October for a hearing. Sister Maria believes that this is another attempt by the family to persuade the nuns to withdraw their complaint of 30th April.
It is known that the family which is illegally occupying parts of the convent has influential connections with the Palestinian Authorities and it is believed that the justice process is being hindered as a consequence.
a. for protection, courage and God’s peace for the nuns
b. that justice will be done, and that there will be no “cover-up”
c. that the property disputes will be resolved in favour of the church
d. for wisdom and strength for church leaders and state officials to stand firm and not bow to pressure that would compromise justice
e. that the perpetrators of the assaults will repent of what they have done