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World Vision partner singing group attacked near Nablus

Source: World Vision Middle East/Eastern Europe/ CA office - Wed, 21 Dec 2011 10:08 GMT
Author: World Vision - MEERO
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A bus carrying choir members from the Bethlehem Bible College- a World Vision partner - was attacked while returning home from a Christmas caroling concert in the occupied West Bank city of Nablus this week. The attack occurred on a road, one of several in Nablus shared by Palestinian residents and the neighbouring Israeli settlers, while the bus was passing by the illegal Israeli settlement of Ofra. 'A rock smashed through the window, and glass shattered everywhere inside,' says chorister Saleem Anfous. Munther Isaac, Choir Director for the Bethlehem Bible College says that it was lucky none of the 25 carol singers were hurt, just frightened. In his blog about the incident he commented 'I was hoping to write about something more pleasant regarding our Christmas ministry in Nablus'. 'It's like Clockwork Orange. On one side, there are no social, cultural, or religious constraints, no breaks from what they can do in their culture, communities, etc. And on the other side, they can do it without impunity or fear of repercussion from the Israeli authorities. So, basically they can perpetrate any kind of violence with no constraints,' explains Co-Founder and Co-Director of Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) Jeff Halper. In recent years, residents of Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law, have carried out a string of violent attacks aimed at the Palestinian population under the slogan 'price tag,' coined by Israeli settlers in reference to the price the Israeli security force will incur if hindering their attacks against Palestinians. These attacks include arson attacks against mosques and schools, blocking roads, throwing stones at houses and cars, incursions into Palestinian lands and villages, as well as torching and uprooting trees and other damages to property. 'This was an unfortunate incident, I am certain our Bethlehem Bible College partners will persevere in their good work in the Palestinian communities and with their voices, they can reach beyond the walls and fences,' says World Vision Church Relations Coordinator Charlie Abou Saada. Partnering with World Vision in Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza, the Bethlehem Bible College focuses on educating and preparing Christian leaders to participate in their local churches and communities. The BBC choir has been traveling to Nablus to sing since 2007, often changing buses and traveling through several Israeli checkpoints. Since the beginning of 2011 nearly 10,000 olive and other trees have also been damaged or destroyed, undermining the livelihoods of hundreds of Palestinian families. Israeli settler violence against Palestinians has increased by over 50% in this year alone, with over 90% of complaints of settler violence closed by the Israeli police without indictment from 2005 through 2010. One hundred and seventy-six Palestinians have been injured in 2011 alone, as well as 36 settlers, in settler-related incidents. The UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has identified 80 Palestinian communities, home to 250,000 people, at risk of settler violence. The Bethlehem Bible college choir has pledged to continue its concerts in the occupied West Bank. World Vision Jerusalem-West Bank-Gaza works to help improve the livelihoods of Palestinian families in Nablus and across the occupied Palestinian territory and to ensure all children are cared for, protected and participating in their communities. To learn more about the work of the Bethlehem Bible College, please visit www.bethbc.org. Sources: 1) B'Tselem - The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, 'Violence by Settlers- Background on violence by settlers', http://www.btselem.org/settler_violence. Last accessed on December 19, 2011. 2) United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory (UN OCHA), 'Protection of Civilians Weekly Report 17-13 December 2011', http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_protection_of_civilians_weekly_report_2011_12_16_english.pdf. Last accessed on December 19, 2011. 3) Amnesty International 'Record number of Palestinians displaced by demolitions as Quartet continues to talk', December 13, 2011, http://www.amnestyusa.org/news/news-item/record-number-of-palestinians-displaced-by-demolitions-as-quartet-continues-to-talk. Last accessed on December 19, 2011. -Ends-

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