Holy Land Franciscans Lament Ban on Co-ed Schools in Gaza

CNA reports:

A law in the Gaza Strip segregating classrooms by sex threatens the existence of Christian schools in the territory, according to the head of a Franciscan group that supports Christians in the Holy Land.

In April, the Hamas-led government of the Palestinian territory on Israel’s western border passed a law banning co-education for children above the age of nine. It also ensures that teachers and other staff are of the same sex as students.

“The goal is not integration but co-existence … and this recent ruling does not make that easy,” Father Peter Vasko, president of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, said of the relations between Muslims and Christians in Gaza.

The Gaza Strip has been ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas since 2007. Of the territory’s population of nearly 1.7 million, only 3,000 are Christians.

The ban on co-ed classrooms, due to take effect in September, will primarily affect Christian schools in the area. Most public schools, as well as those operated by the United Nations, are already sex-segregated according to Al Jazeera.

The law effectively threatens Christian schools in Gaza because of the prohibitive costs they will have to incur to provide for a substantial expansion in the number of classrooms and teachers.

“Having to close schools that are there for the very reason not only to educate but to encourage peace and cooperation among the various groups is very counterproductive,” Fr. Vasko said in a July 18 statement.

The statement added that the new law is “yet another threat to Christians in the Holy Land already under extreme pressure by both Israeli and Palestinian rule.”

Fr. Vasko said the co-existence of Muslims and Christians in the Gaza Strip means “we have to learn that each has their own identity but at the same time building positive relations together” and that “closing any Christian schools in the area would be a serious loss.”

Christians run five schools in the Gaza Strip, three of which are Catholic. Most of the students in the schools are Muslim.

The Patriarchate of Jerusalem educates more than 1,000 Gazan children in their two schools in the territory, and the Rosary Sisters run another Catholic school in Gaza.

“We don’t have the space and we don’t have the money to divide our schools,” Fr. Faysal Hijazin, education director for the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, told the Catholic Herald last month.

“This will be a big problem.”


Israel, Jerusalem and the Western Wall Will Remain Ours Forever

Prime Minister Netanyahu:

“Over the weekend, Hamas held festivities and demonstrations in Judea and Samaria to mark 25 years since it was founded. With the approval of Mahmud Abbas, they called for the destruction of Israel and the expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem and from every point in the State of Israel. We have been here in Jerusalem , not for 25 years; we have been here in Jerusalem for 3,000 years. We have been in the Land of Israel for close to 4,000 years. We have a strong and steadfast national will, continuous historical consciousness and strength of soul of a people that have struggled for its homeland and know how to maintain its state.

“Last night, I lit the eighth Chanukah candle from the closest possible place to the spot where the miracle of the jar of oil occurred, I actually touched the Western Wall. I said it there and I say it here: The Western Wall is not occupied territory. The Western Wall is ours; it symbolizes the foundation of our existence here for thousands of years. We will stand steadfast in the face of all those who want to expel us from here. The State of Israel, Jerusalem and the Western Wall will remain ours forever.”



Ravi Zacharias Speaks with a Founder of Hamas



Why the Free World Must Stand with Israel

The Telegraph:


The Israeli prime minister’s speech before the United Nations in September is a must-read for anyone who cares about the defence of freedom in the Middle East, and the wider war against Islamist terrorism. Netanyahu laid out in stark terms what he views as an epic “battle being waged between the modern and the medieval,” between the forces of freedom and “the medieval forces of radical Islam.” As Netanyahu declared at the UN General Assembly:

The forces of modernity seek a bright future in which the rights of all are protected, in which an ever-expanding digital library is available in the palm of every child, in which every life is sacred. The forces of medievalism seek a world in which women and minorities are subjugated, in which knowledge is suppressed, in which not life but death is glorified.

These forces clash around the globe, but nowhere more starkly than in the Middle East. Israel stands proudly with the forces of modernity. We protect the rights of all our citizens: men and women, Jews and Arabs, Muslims and Christians – Israel wants to see a Middle East of progress and peace. We want to see the three great religions that sprang forth from our region – Judaism, Christianity and Islam – coexist in peace and in mutual respect.

Yet the medieval forces of radical Islam, whom you just saw storming the American embassies throughout the Middle East, they oppose this. They seek supremacy over all Muslims. They are bent on world conquest. They want to destroy Israel, Europe, America. They want to extinguish freedom. They want to end the modern world.

Militant Islam has many branches – from the rulers of Iran with their Revolutionary Guards to al Qaeda terrorists to the radical cells lurking in every part of the globe. But despite their differences, they are all rooted in the same bitter soil of intolerance. That intolerance is directed first at their fellow Muslims, and then to Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, secular people, anyone who doesn’t submit to their unforgiving creed. They want to drag humanity back to an age of unquestioning dogma and unrelenting conflict. I am sure of one thing. Ultimately they will fail. Ultimately, light will penetrate the darkness.

As Hamas’ rockets rain down on Israel, even striking Tel Aviv and threatening Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s words ring true. This is a confrontation between the freest country in the Middle East, and brutal terrorists blinded with hatred who seek to advance their goals by murdering civilians and indiscriminate terror. The thugs of Hamas share the same goal as the Mullahs in Tehran, who provide the bombs, weapons and resources used to sustain a huge terrorist enterprise – i.e., the destruction of Israel and its replacement with an Islamist state.

Hamas’ Iranian-supplied missile stockpile in Gaza is now estimated to be 10,000 strong. For the Israelis, this is a war of survival in an intensely hostile region. They deserve the full support of the United States, Great Britain, and the Western world, which must stand shoulder to shoulder with a close friend and ally. As Hamas’ offensive illustrates, Israel is the front line of a global conflict between the forces of freedom and the forces of tyranny and barbarism.

This is not just Israel’s war, it is ours too. The threat Israel faces from the Jihadists is the same threat the West faces on the streets of London, Paris, Washington or Berlin. Al Qaeda, which has had significant ties in the past to Hamas, will be closely watching the outcome of Israel’s military campaign. An emphatic defeat for Hamas will be a huge blow not only to the Islamist dictatorship in Tehran, but to the followers of Bin Laden as well.


Can you Imagine if Even One Rocket was Fired on Washington, London, Paris or Moscow?

In a moving Huffington Post piece, International Human Rights Lawyer Aren Ostrovsky shares his anger – no, outrage – at the neglect, ignorance, lies, and hatred with which the international community continually approaches Israel.

Ostrovsky explains that it’s not just the 600+ rockets fired from Gaza to Israel in 2012 alone, nor the 80+ fired in the last 24 hours, that outrage him.

Rather, it’s the silence (and sometimes even solidarity) shown by many in the face of terrorism. It’s allowing world leaders who have pledged to destroy Israel to work toward the genocide of the Jewish people. It’s the unchallenged anti-Israel activism of the United Nations, European Union, many mainline churches, and human rights organizations around the world. It’s the failure of so much of the world to consider both sides of a very, very complex situation.

In his article Ostrovsky pointedly asks, “Can you imagine if even one rocket was fired on Washington, London, Paris or Moscow?”

His answer, and ours: “No nation on earth can, or should, tolerate such attacks on its people.”

“You see, as most Americans were waking up this morning, and those in Europe and elsewhere around the world were going about their daily routines, here in Israel — over one million people were running for cover from a hail of rockets being rained down by Palestinian terrorists in Gaza.” – Aren Ostrovsky


This is just so wrong. Unacceptable! Please spare a pray for the people of Israel…


80 Rockets, Mortars Fired at Israel in 24 hours

Out of Gaza:

Hamas claims responsibility for rockets; IDF intercepts 8 rockets fired toward Ashkelon; IAF strikes kill 4 Hamas members; southern local authorities cancel school.

Hamas’s armed wing, the Al-Qassam brigades, took  responsibility Wednesday for a barrage of rockets unleashed against  Israel since Tuesday night as well as the bomb that critically injured an IDF officeralong the Gaza-Israel border on Tuesday. The explosive was placed on a  gate in the Kissufim region, near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. The Popular  Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) also took responsibility  for the Gaza border bomb.

In a statement posted  on its website, Hamas said it fired the rockets, which it said were in  response to Israeli air strikes from 7:00 till 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday.  It also said that on Tuesday it “detonated a roadside bomb near Israeli  infantry soldiers east of Khan Yunis city.”

Of  the projectiles fired by the terrorists, 22 landed in the Eshkol region  while 21 landed in the Lachish region, according to the Israel Police.  An additional 27 rockets landed in the South by Wednesday evening. The  barrage followed 10 rockets fired on Tuesday evening, making a total of  80. Five homes were damaged, according to Israel Radio…

More here.


Hamas Continues to Harm

According to the Times of Israel, since Monday, ”over 120 missiles have been fired into Israel, including more than 70 fired on Wednesday alone.”

But, as a poignant and personal article in the UK’s Telegraph notes, this, the latest in a never-ending series of rocket attacks on southern Israel, has barely made a scratch on international headlines, or on the agendas of world leaders. The loss of life and terror Hamas has caused has largely been ignored by those who do not live in daily fear of it.

Authors and respected heads of Israeli regional councils in southern Isreal, Haim Yellin, Alon Shuster and Yair Farjun, write from experience on the matter:

Another week and another volley of deadly rockets have landed on our communities. As heads of the three Israeli regional councils which skirt the border with Gaza, the 130 rockets thatwere fired on our region over the last few days constitute a sad but all too familiar scenario. Imagine, rockets were falling on your family, your home, your community? Protecting our children from daily Hamas terror has sadly become our top priority.

The toll from this week’s attacks from Gaza includes several wounded civilians, injured when an apartment building was hit. Ominously, taking advantage of instability in Egypt and an increase in arms smuggling by terrorists in Sinai, rockets were launched from Sinai as well as neighbouring Gaza. The city of Ashqelon, home to 113,000 people, and the capital of the south, Beersheba, were a particular focus for the onslaught. Hamas, backed by Iran and the sole authority in Gaza, proudly took responsibility for many of these attacks on our civilian centres. But none of this is news. Our small region has been the target of 13,000 rockets fired from Gaza in a decade. More than one million Israelis are in range, living under a cloud of constant fear.

Read the entire article, Stop the Hamas rocket assaults on Israel, here.

Hamas’ violent rule preempts peace for everyone, and as it does, Israelis and Palestinians alike continue to live in fear, to suffer, and to lose their lives. The latest round of rocket attacks proves that yet again.



Hamas TV: ‘Killing Jews An Act Of Worship’

How do you talk peace with such people?

Following are excerpts from statements made at a rally of the Palestinian Al-Ahrar movement in Gaza…

Rally organizer: Praise be to you, our Lord. You have made our killing of the Jews an act of worship, through which we come closer to you.

Allah’s prayers upon you, our beloved Prophet [Muhammad]. You have made your teachings into constitutions for us – the light with which we dissipate the darkness of the occupation, and the fire with which we harvest the skulls of the Jews.

Yes, our beloved brothers, even though the entire world moves closer to Allah through fasting, through hunger, and through tears, we are a people that moves closer to Allah through blood, through body parts, and through martyrs.

Keep reading…


Freeing Gilad Shalit Shows Israel’s Humanity – and Hamas’s Blood-Chilling Cruelty

His kidnapping five years ago has done the Palestinian cause no favours.

The Catholic Herald:

So, as I write this Gilad Shalit is on his way to freedom and a reunion with his family. The matter is being covered by a live blog at the Telegraph and at the Guardian.

It is certainly a major event for Sergeant Shalit, who had the misfortune to be taken prisoner by Hamas in Gaza five years ago; it is certainly a very important day for his family in Israel, who have spent five years worrying about him: worrying whether he was still alive, worrying whether they would ever see him again. And it is an important day for the Israeli government, who can at last draw a line under this episode, and who can think with satisfaction that they have got their man back. After all, that is the number one duty of all governments – to protect their citizens. The Israeli government, in making such efforts on behalf of Gilad Shalit, and paying so high a price for his release, has shown a Palmerstonian commitment to the welfare of its citizens.

There will, of course, be a great deal of debate about whether the Israelis were right to agree to swap Gilad Shalit for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners. This deal raises the spectre of other Israeli citizens being kidnapped and then exchanged, now that the government of Israel has revealed the high value it places on a single sergeant. But to look at it that way obscures a simpler and more profound point.

Hamas has been content to hold Gilad Shalit for five years; we do not know in what sort of conditions as yet, but we do know that his imprisonment was not in accord with the Geneva convention. Shalit may have been taken in a war but the way he was held reminds us of the kidnapping of Terry Waite, Brian Keenan and John McCarthy. Just as we remember the long agony of that crisis, we ought to understand something of what the Israelis have been going through on behalf of Gilad Shalit. This shows that Hamas is quite prepared to use cruel methods to advance its cause, whatever that cause may be. Cruelty is surely never to be condoned. This behaviour of Hamas ought to chill the blood of all humane people…

All here.

The Franciscan missionaries serving the Holy Land give us this video:

And he is back:

Israel Prepares for Gilad Shalit’s Return

One man for 1000:

Israel has agreed to swap 1,000 Palestinian prisoners for a lone soldier captured by Gaza’s Islamist rulers five years ago.

The deal to release Gilad Shalit resolves one of the most emotive issues in the Middle-East.

Shalit, then 19, was captured by militants who tunnelled their way out of Gaza and forced him back over the border in 2006.

Do read more here.

It would indeed seem as if wicked Hamas really values its terrorists:

After more than five years as a hostage of Hamas, the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will reportedly soon be released in exchange for more than 1,000 Palestinian terrorists held in Israeli jails.

Most Israelis will wholeheartedly agree with the view expressed by Ha’aretz columnist Ari Shavit who described this lopsided deal as “a victory for old-fashioned Israeli solidarity”.

It may not be an exaggeration to say that it is ultimately this sense of solidarity that has enabled Israel to survive in a violent and hostile neighborhood. At the same time, it is of course precisely this solidarity that provides the rationale for the kidnapping of Israelis by terrorist groups like Hamas.

Nobody in Israel is under any illusions about Hamas’s intentions and plans to kidnap more Israelis. It is also clear that Hamas would pursue such plans even if Israel had not agreed to any exchange to secure the release of Gilad Shalit…

Given the staggering number of terrorists that will be released and the fact that terrorists freed in previous deals have often returned to terrorism, it is obviously very problematic that hundreds of convicted terrorists will now be allowed to return to their homes.

Rest here.

And how unjust does this deal not seem.



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