Clergy delegation bemoans inhumane treatment of Palestinians

The South African delegation of church leaders who travelled to Palestine to witness first-hand the atrocities meted out at innocent civilians has lamented the slave-like conditions endured by Palestinians.

“Bethlehem is like a cage. People can’t go out or go in. Taxis can’t go out or in. The [Israeli] soldiers open the gates when they so wish, even if there’s time for it, they opened it when they like,” explained reverend Frank Chikane.

Chikane, who is leading a delegation of clergymen together with other Christian leaders from across the globe, travelled to Palestine at the weekend and spent Christmas in the war-ridden region.

The trip is also a show of solidarity with Palestinians in the territories illegally occupied by Israel settlers.

The South African-based humanitarian aid organisation, the Gift of the Givers, also expressed its dismay at the highly militarised Bethlehem border with Jerusalem.

Bethlehem is purportedly the birthplace of Jesus Christ.

“The Christian leaders continued their journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem,” said the Gift of the Givers.

“However, the road to enter Bethlehem is closed by the Israeli Defence Force, requiring Palestinians to cross on foot and undergo a search while producing an ID for access.”

Christmas festivities cancelled

In Bethlehem, which lies about 10km away from the city of Jerusalem, Palestinians were being forced to cancel Christmas festivities because of the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

By Sunday, the war on Gaza had claimed more than 20 000 lives and left thousands others injured while many Gazans remain missing and buried under collapsed buildings.

The delegation also met with families of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners.

The South African Council of Churches, said in a statement: “Then, the land was under occupation by the Roman empire. Now, the occupier is the state of Israel.

“Then, King Herod carried out a genocide of boys under the age of two. Now, Israel is carrying out a genocide of Palestinians in Gaza which is spilling over to the West Bank, and more than 8 000 children have been killed.”

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