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Following their arrest and interrogation last week Suhail Khoury and his wife Rania Elias from the National Conservatory of Music and Yabous Cultural Centre, released a statement in Arabic and English. The statement called “on all Human Rights Organizations and UNESCO as well as the European Union and Representatives of Consulates and Diplomats to support these organizations in Jerusalem and to hold to account the occupying forces for their daily violations of the rights of the Palestinians and their organizations and to stop all attacks on scholars, artists, and musicians and those involved in the cultural life.”

  • Lord, we pray that organisations and individuals around the world will heed the call from Suhail and Rania. We pray that violations will cease, and that scholars, artists, and musicians can be free to express their art and promote their culture around the world. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

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The Joint Advocacy Initiative (run by the East Jerusalem YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine), have set up a training programme for Palestinian secondary school students between the ages of 15 and 16 years old. They have linked up students from different backgrounds, some from a youth group in the Dhaisha Refugee Camp, some from the Melkite Catholic School in Beit Sahour, and some from the Al- Khader Village Secondary School for Girls. So far forty students have joined the programme and have attended two sessions. Students will have an opportunity to improve their advocacy and presentation skills and learn about how the occupation is affecting their lives in different ways.

  • Lord, we are thankful for this imaginative new initiative to help young Palestinians from different backgrounds to gain an insight into each other’s lives and aspirations. We pray that this shared experience will encourage them to gain in confidence and show them ways in which they might serve and strengthen their own communities. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

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Three of Banksy’s paintings, which originally hung in The Walled Off Hotel in Bethlehem, have been sold by Sotheby’s in London. The triptych of paintings references the migrant refugee crisis in Europe over the past decade. The auction of the triptych raised £2.2 million which Banksy is donating to the building of a new acute stroke unit and for equipment for children for the Bethlehem Arab Society for Rehabilitation Hospital.

  • Lord, we are thankful for the generous donation of funds towards the healthcare needs of those living in Bethlehem. We are also mindful of the discrimination exercised by the Israeli authorities who fully fund the Israeli healthcare system, while leaving the Palestinian system underfunded and dependent on support from abroad. Lord, we pray for an end to this injustice. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

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On Friday, the 31st of July, more than 27,000 Palestinian Muslims attended the Eid al-Adha prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem. All worshippers were required to wear face masks, bring their own prayer mats and observe social distancing. The East Jerusalem compound is a holy site in Islam and non-Muslim worship is prohibited there. Despite this understanding, groups of Jewish settlers, under armed guard, attempted to force their way into the compound on the previous day to commemorate Tisha B’Av the Jewish holiday.

  • Dear Lord, we pray that those living in Jerusalem will treat each other with respect and consideration and that all faiths have the freedom and opportunity to pray without threat in their holy places. We pray that these disruptive settler intrusions into the compound in Jerusalem will cease. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

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The Occupied Palestinian Territories have recorded about 15,000 cases of coronavirus since the beginning of the outbreak. They are now experiencing a second and more severe wave of the pandemic, with the number of deaths recorded at 86 (as of the 2nd August). The Palestinian Health Authority has reported a spike of new cases in Hebron and East Jerusalem and are powerless to impose strict containment measures in these areas which are under Israeli control. The situation in these areas is exacerbated by Israeli nightly raids and arrests as well as the shutdown and demolition of testing centres set up in Silwan and Jenin.

  • Oh Lord, we cry out to you and pray that the Israeli authorities will cease their acts of harassment and aggression against the Palestinians. We pray that those living in overcrowded conditions, especially refugee camps, in the West Bank and Gaza will receive advice and support in how to limit their vulnerability to the virus. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

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The Kumi Now Online Initiative is encouraging its supporters to join in a celebration of the work of young women filmmakers at the Palestinian Arts Night on Tuesday, the 4th of August. It will also be an opportunity to hear some of the women from the Shashat Women Cinema being interviewed, (www.kuminow.com/online)

  • Dear Lord, we thank you for the way filmmakers, especially women, are able to use their artistic gifts to show memorable images and tell stories which express the sufferings of the Palestinian people living under Israeli occupation. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

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On the morning of Monday 27th July, illegal Israeli settlers sprayed graffiti on the walls of and set fire to, and sprayed graffiti on the walls of a mosque in al-Bireh, Ramallah.

  • Dear Lord, we pray for calm and mutual respect for worshippers of different faiths in Palestine and Israel. We pray that the Israeli authorities respect the right of all faiths to worship safely in their own buildings without threat of injury or desecration of these holy places. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

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On Monday, the 21st of July, Palestinians living in Tuqu’, south of Bethlehem, filmed Israeli forces loading an ancient stone Byzantine baptismal font on a truck and taking it away in the early hours of the morning. This font is only one of three ancient fonts which have been found on Palestinian land. This is the latest act in an ongoing campaign of historical appropriation by the Israeli occupying authorities.

  • Lord, yet again we hear reports of the violation of international law with the transfer of ancient artefacts out of occupied territory by an occupying power. We pray for an end to the occupation and for attempts to dispossess Palestinians. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.                    

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On Wednesday, the 22nd of July, Israeli police arrested leading Palestinian cultural figures in East Jerusalem in a series of raids on their homes and workplaces. Rania Elias, Director of the Yabous Cultural Centre and her husband Suhail Khoury, Director of the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, were detained at their home, but released later on that day. In a separate raid Daoud al-Ghoul, Director of the Jerusalem Arts Network-Shafaq was arrested at his home. Police seized documents from their offices.

  • Dear Lord, we pray for all those who devote their lives to supporting the cultural heritage of Palestinians living in Jerusalem and the Occupied Territories. We pray that they will not be daunted by attempts to strike at the heart of this heritage. We pray that the city of Jerusalem will remain a shared city, enriched by diverse people and cultures. Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.

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The Israeli forces demolished a Palestinian drive-through COVID-19 station at the entrance to the West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday, the 21st of July. The station was located in Area C which is under Israeli control, where the authorities rarely grant Palestinians permits to build.

Lord, even at this time of crisis from the pandemic the Israeli authorities continue to abuse the most vulnerable communities in the occupied West Bank. We cry out to you when we hear of these merciless acts of violence. Lord, hear the cry of the needy and ‘maintain the cause of the afflicted’ (Psalm140:12). Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer.