January 11, 2001
volume 12, no. 11
Catholic Bishop Comes Under Israeli Gunfire

    JERUSALEM, Dec. 10, 01 ( -- A car carrying a Catholic bishop came under fire from Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint on the West Bank on Wednesday.

    Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, a Jerusalem auxiliary, was traveling from his residence in Nazareth to the village of Zababdeh, in the Israeli-occupied territories. He was riding in a car clearly identified as a diplomatic vehicle, flying the Vatican flag, as he approached an Israeli military checkpoint. There, the soldiers refused to let them pass.

    Father Elie Kurzum, the bishop's secretary, was driving the vehicle. He reports that when he was turned away from the checkpoint, he stopped by the side of the road, hoping to talk with the soldiers and convince them to let the car pass. Instead, a soldier shot at the bishop's car. When Father Kurzum shouted at him to hold his fire, the priest reported: "He answered me, 'Go away or I'll put a bullet in your head.'" Father Kurzum says that two more shots were then fired at the car, as he accelerated away from the checkpoint.

    Bishop Marcuzzo immediately went to another nearby military post and complained to the commanding officer there. The officer apologized, and agreed to accompany the bishop back to the first checkpoint, so that they could pass without further incident. The officer also agreed to tell the soldiers that the bishop would be returning within an hour, and should be allowed to pass through the checkpoint once again.

    However, when Bishop Marcuzzo returned after visiting the sick priest, the soldiers again stopped his vehicle at the same checkpoint, and leveled their guns at the car. This time the driver immediately reversed his tracks, without attempting to talk to the soldiers. The bishop eventually returned to Nazareth by another, more circuitous route.

    No one was hurt in the checkpoint incident. However the bishop's secretary, Father Kurzum, remarked: "It's just to tell that the Israeli soldiers-- they use very easily their guns."

    A spokesman for the Roman Catholic Patriarch of Jerusalem observed that the incident was a clear violation of the right of freedom of movement. He added: "If this happens now, with such a high-ranking personality, what could happen every day and night to our simple common people?"

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January 11, 2001
volume 12, no. 11
Global News from the Universal Church

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