Several Palestinians who were detained in Gaza have recently been released. Many of them testify that they were beaten, tortured and humiliated while held in detention by Israeli forces. Some Palestinians who were detained have sustained severe physical and mental injuries. Israeli soldiers are facing increasing accusations of gross mistreatment of prisoners in violation of international law.
• God of the captives, countless Palestinians have endured the suffering of Christ. You too were crucified and mocked by authorities and structures of power. Lord, provide healing through justice and liberation to all who are tortured and abused. Humble the arrogant who are foolish to think they can act cruelly with impunity. We remember that you are co-suffering with Palestinians who are tortured and humiliated.
On February 5th, Wadea’ E’layan, aged 14, was shot and killed by Israeli forces near the Israeli settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. According to Israeli sources, E’layan allegedly attempted to stab an Israeli soldier at the roundabout leading to Ma’ale Adumim when Israeli forces shot toward him. After falling from the first shots, an Israeli soldier shot at him again. Israeli forces later confiscated E’layan’s body.
• God of justice, protect all the young people in our land as they face so much danger and uncertainty. Have mercy on the family of E’layan and comfort them as they mourn. We hold on to our faith that you do not abandon us in life or death. Lord, we ask you to intervene and stop the bloodshed which has been ongoing for over 75 years.
Last week, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Ibrahimi Mosque were both stormed by Israeli settlers and Israeli forces. These actions mark a deliberate political act intended to “Judaize” Holy sites and promote Jewish supremacy. Since the 7th of October, coverage on the abuse and restrictions Palestinians face in accessing Holy sites has been minimal, yet for the local communities, it is a daily reality.
• Divine creator, the full extent of the suffering we are experiencing cannot be fully articulated and shown to the world. You alone see and hear all evil and good deeds. Protect us from all forms of supremacy and ensure that all Holy sites and rights of freedom of worship are respected. Lord, uproot the seeds of hate and replace it with seeds that will produce the fruit of love.
On the 14th of February, at least 10 people, including six children, were killed by Israeli air strikes in villages across southern Lebanon. Furthermore, Iran launched attacks in Syria and Iraq after members of its elite forces were killed in Damascus allegedly in Israeli attacks, while the US, along with the United Kingdom, has carried out several attacks against the Houthis in Yemen. Experts warn that if an immediate ceasefire is not achieved, there will be further escalation and violence in the region.
• God of peace, the empires, states, and militaries of the world legitimise themselves through violence and deceit. As we proclaim that you are the “Prince of Peace,” help us to be agents who work for an immediate ceasefire of bombs and lies in our region, especially in Gaza. Help us disrupt and end settler colonialism so that we can rejoice in peace and justice.
In recent weeks, all eyes have been on Rafah and Nasser Hospital in Gaza. Mass displacement in Rafah continues as Israel’s military increases its air raids and artillery fire. Many fear a ground operation on the southern city which was once designated a “safe zone.” In Nasser hospital, people are being indiscriminately attacked by Israeli forces, both inside and outside the hospital and as they try to flee the facility.
• God of life, as we witness so much death and brutality, we come before you with the words of the Psalmist, “O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest” (Psalm 22:2). Lord, while we have no control and are experiencing a sense of powerlessness, remind us that we can be witnesses. Let us bear witness to the fact that you breathe life, conquer death, and restore justice.
Last week, Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent. In the coming weeks, many Christians in the world will practice fasting, meditation, daily prayers, and scripture readings. During this Lent season, there are various initiatives which dedicate their meditation and reflection with Gaza in mind. One initiative out of many, is the “Struggle and Lament Series”, organized by Friends of Sabeel North America, The Kairos Center, Freedom Church of the Poor, Black Christians for Palestine, Faith for Black Lives, and National Council of Churches, among other important organisations and movements.
• Holy God, your perfect nature not only reveals our individual sins, but the sins present in structures and systems. During the season of Lent, help us, O Lord, to repent from our sins and turn the other way. Help us, with your Holy Spirit, reclaim holiness by ending oppression in all its forms and liberating all from the shackles of sin.
On the 7th of February, many Muslims around the world marked the Israʾ and Miʿraj, or the Night Journey, and Ascension of the Prophet Muhammad. Many Muslims believe that the night journey and ascension was a miraculous occurrence during which prophet Muhammad travelled from Makkah to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem before ascending to heaven, all in one night. This year the commemoration was sombre as many worshipers were denied access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque and police and settler violence in the old city are frequent.
• God of love, we are angered and saddened that our Palestinian Muslim siblings are prevented from their right to worship, and at times harassed and attacked by settlers and Israeli police. Lord, you wept over Jerusalem, and we continue with that cry today as Jerusalem has become a city of intolerance and hate.
On the 18th of February, as a part of Voices From the Holy Land Online Film Salon Series, a webinar will be featured entitled “Oppression and Violence in the West Bank”. This webinar aims to reveal how Palestinians live under occupation in the West Bank, the plight of Palestinians families who have fled, the arguments of Israelis who want to empty Palestine through settler-colonialism, and what the international community might do to stop the violence. Omar Harami, the director of Sabeel, will be one of the keynote speakers.
• God of light, use the voices coming from Palestinians and their allies to reveal evil where it is hidden, educate where there are lies and misinformation, and speak life in times of death. Let us remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).
Israel confirmed last week that its troops are pumping seawater into a network of tunnels in Gaza, a method, environmentalists say violates international law and cause dire long-term environmental consequences in Gaza. This raises questions about Israel’s plans to rescue the Israeli captives and adds to the lasting devastation of Gaza.
• Divine creator, Israel’s disregard for the consequences of their actions reveals their twisted intention. Your children and creation are victims to the sin of Israel’s military actions. Help us steward your good creation by resisting the sin of oppression and working for the redemption of all forms of life, human and ecological.
On the 4th of February, Ibrahim Hashash, aged 4, was mauled by an Israeli military dog during an arrest operation in Balata refugee camp in Nablus. The dog was unleashed into the Hashash family’s home, viciously attacking Ibrahim, biting him repeatedly and leaving him severely injured.
• God of protection, we pray for young Ibrahim Hashash as he is recovering in the hospital. Heal the wounds he sustained from the teeth of the Israeli occupation. Lord, save us from the brutality of colonialism as it bites all, young and old. Help us speak and act prophetically against the evil we see and bear witness to your love.