Advent 4 - Romans
Every Friday, in several villages in the West Bank, residents protest Israel’s theft of their lands—some protest the wall being built on village farmland; others protest theft of land for settlements. In Nabi Saleh in the Ramallah district, villagers are protesting the takeover of a spring owned by the head of the village council. These are peaceful protests; demonstrators march, sing, chant. Palestinians from nearby villages and international supporters join the demonstrations. Until this week, no one had been killed in these demonstrations.
For decades, Nabi Saleh residents have endured the gradual takeover of their lands for the nearby Israeli settlement of Halamish. Then, in late 2009, settlers gradually began taking over Ein al-Qaws, the Bow Spring, which is on lands owned by Bashir Tamimi. With the help of the army, the settlers built a shed over the spring. They threw rocks and pointed guns at Palestinians who approached.
The Israeli army has responded to the demonstrations by declaring the entire village a “closed military zone,” which means that the army occupies the village and prevents everyone from leaving or entering. They conduct nighttime raids, forcing families out of their homes, arresting and intimidating the villagers, even minor children.
Last Friday, during the protest, Israeli soldiers fired a tear-gas canister and hit 28-year-old Mustafa Tamimi in the face. He was only meters from the soldier who shot him from the back of an armored vehicle. Tamimi died of his injuries. He was killed INSIDE his village, in the West Bank, where he was protesting the theft of his family’s lands. He had no weapons—only stones he picked up from the ground to throw at the tanks invading his village. [The photo shows Tamimi and his friend chasing the tank; the back door is open and a soldier is aiming the tear gas canister directly at Tamimi. The second photo is Tamimi.]
Read his companion’s eyewitness account . Protesters now carry cameras and video recorders and the Isra
eli human rights organization B’Tselem has posted a report with photos of the shooting. B’Tselem has long been protesting the army’s unlawful use of tear gas canisters as weapons, and is pursuing this case in court.
The joy of Advent is not a result of making the world a better place. If we depend on our work as our source of hope, we have only despair. In spite of UN resolutions and talk of peace, the world is not safer—not in Palestine, not in Yemen…..not in Denver.
In Advent, we anticipate God’s gracious self-giving, the source of our hope. We dare to hope, even as we read of Mustafa’s needless death, because we know God’s plans for us. We know Mustafa’s death is not the end of the story.
Gracious God, you chose to enter into our suffering and pain, in a manger in Bethlehem. Today the people of the Holy Land still suffer under an unjust occupation. Grant us grace to trust in your promises. In the name of your son, whose birth we await. Amen.