Palestinian Christians request renewed prayer for nuns of the Coptic Orthodox church and convent in Bethlehem involved in legal action over a property dispute, after a further delay in the legal process.
On 10th October there was due to be a court hearing, but members of the family that has misappropriated convent property failed to attend. The hearing, which had originally been scheduled for 11th July, has now been postponed again to 14th November.
The court hearing is in relation to physical assaults on 30th April 2017, when those illegally occupying convent property attacked one of the nuns, Sister Maria, and then a vehicle. After she was assaulted, Sister Maria and witnesses were travelling by car with a policeman to make a statement at the police station when their car was stopped and vandalised. The assailants were unaware of the presence of the policeman inside the car, who made himself known and stopped the attack.
On 11th September one of the assailants, Rania, filed a complaint accusing Sister Maria 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.
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. The family 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.
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.
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. for wisdom and strength for church leaders and state officials to stand firm and not bow to pressure that would compromise justice
d. that the perpetrators of the assaults will repent of what they have done