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On Thursday, the 10th of October, a protest convoy of hundreds of cars from the Arab Israeli community converged on Jerusalem. Drivers from the North and the South of Israel had come to protest the lack of response from the government and the police to growing violence in the Arab Israeli community. Joint List leaders formed from an alliance of Arab parties met with Public Security Minister, Gilad Erdan, and Israeli police chiefs to discuss initiatives to deal with the rising levels of violence and gun crime.

  • Lord, Lord we pray that the Israeli government would seek to care for all the people living in Palestine/ Israel and not just focus on services and care for the Jewish community, while turning a blind eye to the needs of others. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.

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Turkey’s incursion into northern Syria on Wednesday, the 9th of October, has caused hundreds of thousands of civilians to flee their homes. Plans to resettle several million Syrian Arab refugees along the area currently under Kurdish control will destabilise the area and is in breach of international law.

  • Lord, you watch over the sojourner, you uphold the widow and the fatherless and these are the very people who suffer most when war strikes. We pray for the young, the elderly and the infirm as they flee from their homes just as the winter months approach. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.

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The presence of some of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East is under threat from relentless persecution. In Palestine some Christians are worn down by the occupation and many move abroad. Palestinian Christians make up 1-2.5% of the population in the West Bank and less than 1% in Gaza (2015 figures). In May 2019, the Archbishop of Irbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan spoke in the UK about the vanishing Christian community in Iraq. The numbers of Christians in Iraq have diminished from 1.5 million in 2003, to just 250,000 today.

  • Lord Jesus, we cry to you as we hear of the weakening of the Christian community in the Middle East after so many years of persecution. Lord, even in your birthplace the number of local worshippers declines. We pray that you will strengthen and encourage all those who seek to remain in the Middle East to continue to witness and to minister to others. Lord, in your name…hear our prayers.

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In the last week of September, Radi Attiani, a Palestinian farmer in the northern West Bank town of Yasuf, reported that the crop of olives had been stolen from 42 of the trees on his land, just before the annual harvest. He suspected the settlers who live adjacent to his land as they had chopped down 52 of his family’s trees two months previously.

  • Lord, we pray that the illegal Israeli settlers would stop uprooting and damaging the crops of the Palestinian farmers. Lord, you command us not to steal or covet the property of others. We pray for protection and support for the farmers, particularly at this time of the olive harvest. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.

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This week’s Kumi Now initiative looks at the work of Zaytoun (Arabic for Olives) and the support this non-profit organisation gives to Palestinian farmers to market their olive oil internationally. Since 2004, Zaytoun has worked with Canaan Fair Trade in Palestine to pioneer the world’s first Fairtrade certified olive oil. They also run a project to distribute and plant olive saplings to farmers who have had their trees uprooted or damaged by Israeli settlers.

  • Lord, we give thanks for your steadfast love and we remember the words of the psalmist who pictured himself as ‘a green olive tree in the house of God’ (Ps 52:8). Thank you, Lord, for the work of Zaytoun and for the support they give Palestinian farmers as they struggle to cultivate their olive groves in the shadow of the occupation. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.

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Seventy-one Palestinian civilians, including 28 children, were injured due to Israeli soldiers’ excessive use of force against peaceful protestors at the 78th Great March of Return, on Friday, 11 October 2019. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights’ (PCHR) fieldworkers documented 33 injuries with live-bullet wounds; 3 civilians, including 2 children, with critical wounds; and others with wounds in the upper body due to direct targeting with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters.

  • Lord, we come before you ready to lay our anxieties and fears at your feet and ask that you would guard our hearts with your peace which surpasses all understanding. We pray for the peaceful protestors in Gaza and that others would be led to express their grievances using non-violent means. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayers.

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Sabeel is holding its annual Ecumenical Clergy Retreat this week Monday 14th to Friday 18th of October. The retreat will take place in Amman, Jordan. A number of distinguished clergy and lay people will lead the sessions.

  • We pray dear Lord for your blessing on this Retreat and for the ecumenical spirit that prevails in the Sabeel programs. Guide the speakers and the participants to be nourished by this fellowship and help them disseminate the right attitude in their parishes so that the “Other” will be a blessing.  Lord in your mercy…hear our prayer.

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On Friday, 5th October, thousands of Israeli Arabs, citizens of Israel, took part in protests against the Israeli Police’s failure to properly address violence in the Israeli Arab community. The peaceful protests were held in numerous Israeli Arab cities across the country, blocking major roads and entrances to majority Arab towns. Since the beginning of 2019, more than 70 Israeli Arabs have been murdered with little or no action by the Israeli Police towards preventing these crimes.

  • Lord of justice, we pray that you guide police in Israel, and around the world, to protect the people of all communities. Grant solace to those families who have lost loved ones through violence, and that the protests continue to be peaceful. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

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On the weekend beginning the 4th of October a conference took place in Härnösand, Sweden entitled, ‘Dialogue there, dialogue here’. Omar Harami from Sabeel Jerusalem was one of the speakers who addressed the challenge of trying to establish dialogue in Palestine/Israel today.

  • Lord, we pray for those who attended the conference, that they may have been encouraged to keep listening to others who may have quite different experiences and convictions from their own. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

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Last week, Israeli occupation forces closed checkpoints between the West Bank, Gaza, and Israel for the two days of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) celebrations, restricting most Palestinians from leaving the occupied territories. There will be two further closures of the border crossings for the Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) on October 8th and 9th and Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacles) between October 13th and 21st.

  • Lord, we pray for an end to the apartheid system in the Holy Land. The Israeli authorities focus on their own services and festivals, disregarding the needs of the Palestinian population. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.