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Gaza Bombing: Message from the Bishop of Jerusalem

Posted on: January 31, 2003 3:17 PM
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Dear Friends,

I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war! Psalm 120:7.

Salaam and grace in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ and blessed greetings to you from Jerusalem.

I want to thank you for your many emails, telephone calls and faxes in support of the people of St Philip's Episcopal Church and Ahli Arab Hospital. Your support truly makes a difference to us, and is greatly appreciated.

I want to further update you on the specifics of the missile fired at the St Philip's Episcopal Church in Gaza. It was an American Made Tau missile. It can be watched after firing, and directed more precisely through a remote control guidance device. The missile itself weighs 24.5 kilograms, and the explosive component is 2.8 kilograms (a little over 6 pounds). It has a capacity to pierce 60 cm of steel and penetrate 120 of cement. Needless to say, it is not surprising that it punched a meter and a half hole in the marble adjacent to the alter.

Many of you asked why this has happened to our Church, our Hospital and our people. Many of you have further asked us if it could have been a mistake. I am absolutely certain this was not a mistake. As I said before, this was a guided missile. St Philip's is in the centre of the walled Ahli Arab Hospital compound, surrounded by large Red Cross and Anglican flags. I fear that we are being targeted.

Israeli Brigadier-General Tzvika Fogel told Reuters that helicopters had fired five missiles at a suspected Palestinian weapons factory. But he said two of the missiles malfunctioned and one landed "in the vicinity" of St Philip's. The vicinity of St Philip's translates into a missile through the centre of the roof, missing the altar by less than a metre. The foundry destroyed by this attack was slightly less than a kilometer away. The truth is simply that this was an attack on our ministry. In spite of this statement, we have had no official contact from the Israeli military admitting to the attack, and offering an apology.

I have been told by many of our Diocesan family and friends that we were target for taking too loud a stand for peace and justice; that our ministry of peace and reconciliation, of witnessing the truth of our circumstances calls the attention of those who fight against peace.

Thank you for your support and for your voice in condemnation of this attack. Know that this comes with my prayers and best wishes.

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 Corinthians 4:1

In Christ

+The Rt Revd Riah Abu El-Assal