Brussels, 15 March, 2023: The Board of Pax Christi International welcomes the testimony from members of the Pax Christi delegation who recently returned from a 10-day peace pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
Thirteen members from six countries took part in a visit that enabled them to reconnect with Pax Christi partners, see, first-hand, the facts on the ground, meet with religious leaders, activists, NGO, and UN representatives, and most importantly, to hear from those whose daily lives are affected by the occupation.
The delegation stayed in Jerusalem and Bethlehem and visited Ramallah, Hebron, the Cremisan Valley, Sheikh Jarrah, Silwan, and Bedouin communities under threat of immediate eviction.
As Marie Dennis, Director of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative, a project of Pax Christi International, commented “We heard talk of a new Nakba (Arabic for catastrophe referring to the expulsion of over 750,000 Palestinians and annihilation of more than 400 villages) and it feels that way. The stories of heartbreak are not old stories; they are ongoing.”
At every stop the group witnessed the brutal realities of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem now entering its fifty-sixth year. They heard harrowing stories of home demolitions, forced evictions and removals, violent settler attacks and the many indignities of oppression and repression experienced by Palestinians. The escalating fears for the future as the new ultra-nationalist government takes control was palatable.
The team met with the family of murdered Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh who, nearly one year after her death, has seen no accountability or justice. Their call for the international community to intervene was the same one heard at every encounter.
As a Catholic peace movement, the team recognised the perseverance and tenacity of the Palestinian people in attending to their daily activities despite constant aggression, as the most profound form of nonviolent resistance. The expression “to exist is to resist” underpins even the most mundane of tasks.
As Rev. Paul Lansu, a Board member, remarked, “The current situation is terrible and quickly deteriorating. Our visit could not have been more timely. The pilgrimage was a visible demonstration of solidarity with all our Palestinian sisters and brothers in the Holy Land. It was a reaffirmation of Pax Christi’s steadfast commitment to advocate for a just peace that ensures freedom, justice, and equality for all.”