Prayer Focus: Illegal expansion of Settlements
February 28, 2023 –
“Let us raise our voices against the illegal annexation of Palestinian land for the expansion of settlements”On 12 February, the Israeli security cabinet decided to retroactively “legalize” nine settlement outposts in the West Bank – which are considered illegal even under Israeli law – and advanced plans to build 10,000 new housing units in existing settlements. This announcement drew swift international criticism, which the government – considered the most right-wing in Israel’s history – rejected, citing a series of attacks in Jerusalem as justification. Earlier this month, the Associated Press reported that the settler population in the West Bank had surpassed 500,000, in addition to the more than 200,000 settlers who live in East Jerusalem. The existence, and continued expansion, of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem breaches international law, regardless of motive. Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention contains an explicit and absolute prohibition against an occupying power transferring, or encouraging the transfer, of its own civilians into occupied territory. “The transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” also constitutes a war crime under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court giving rise to individual criminal responsibility. A war crime is never a justified response to a crime. Neither is the collective punishment of the Palestinian population in the West Bank and East Jerusalem for acts of individuals that they have no responsibility for. The settlements and collective punishment are not just illegal under international law but also contravene fundamental tenets of the liberal democratic order.
Action to take:
- Call on your government to denounce settlement expansion in the West Bank, and pressure Israel to comply with international law.
- Call on your government to take action to protect Palestinians, and to stop measures amounting to collective punishment of Palestinians living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
PrayersHoly God, in the beginning you created the heavens and the earth And you called it good The earth is yours, and all that is in it, The world, and those who live in it And yet, through human greed, carelessness, and violence Your good creation is destroyed Today we pray for the land called holy, caught in an unholy conflict We pray for Palestinian communities threatened by settlements We pray for farmers who cannot reach their olive groves, for families whose land has been stolen, and for children who live in fear of attacks We pray for the land itself, for water, for animals, for the environment And we pray for the olive trees: proud symbol of Palestine, strong and resilient, steadfast and true, bearing fruit even in the harshest conditions Give us the sumud (صمود )of the olive trees. Strengthen our commitment to peace and justice for Palestine. Keep us steadfast in prayer, in advocacy, and in action. Like a tree standing by the water—we shall not be moved. Amen.
Prayer Focus: Focus on Climate Change
November 10, 2022 –
PRAYER FOCUS: CLIMATE CHANGEClimate change is real and is happening while we are speaking at rates faster than expected. This is what we are learning from the growing climate change science. The negative impacts of climate change prompted hundreds of governments and heads of state to participate in the Conference of Parties in Sharm El-Shaikh- Egypt. This conference is the 27th of its kind and it is happening every year to discuss the implementation and develop international agreements related to climate change such as United Nations Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol and Paris Agreements, and Glasgow Climate Pact. Palestine has contributed almost nothing to climate change as the greenhouse production of the Palestinians is minimal compared to other industrialized nations and states. However, Palestine is suffering disproportionately from the impacts of climate change. The Palestinian territories are expected to witness a rise in temperature ranging from 2-4.5 C° by 2050. This means more heat waves in summer times and warmer and shorter winters. The increasing heat stress will impose health risks, especially on children and the elderly and increase the need for air conditioning which in turn increases the stress on the already suffering power supply in addition to increasing the greenhouse gas emissions in what is called a positive feedback loop. The precipitation is also expected to decrease significantly (by up to 20%) which exacerbates the already rampant water shortage, especially in the Gaza Strip. The Gaza Strip is expected to suffer further groundwater quality deterioration due to the increasing seawater intrusion. While the drought conditions will be increasing in frequency and severity, the winter season will be shortened, and the rain intensity will be increased causing severer and more frequent flash floods. Other climatic risks are expected to increase including frost, storms, etc. The sea-level rise is expected to exacerbate the coastal erosion in the Gaza Strip causing damage to the fishers, poor neighbouring communities such as Al Shati and Dier el Balah Cams and the Sweden Village in addition to the poor infrastructure in the Strip. The Young Palestinian generation is also suffering disproportionately because of climate change. Climate change has been caused by more than 200 years of greenhouse emissions that started directly after the rise of the industrial revolution and continued since then. It is only this generation that started suffering from the impacts of such a revolution and they are expected to pay the cost of the damage that accumulated over 200 years.
We call upon the industrialized and industrializing countries to show the needed responsibility towards nations and countries such as the State of Palestinian by helping them:
We pray and call upon the human race and the international community to make the best they can to stop the growing greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming at 1.5 C° in comparison to the pre-industrial levels.
- Adapt to climate change impacts
- Cover the loss and damages that result from climate change impacts
- Develop socially and economically in a climate change-friendly manner