March 13, 2001
volume 12, no. 72

Israeli Army Blocks Patriarch From Visiting Parish

    VATICAN CITY, MAR. 12, 2001 (Zenit.org).- The Israeli army last Friday impeded the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem from visiting a parish in the West Bank, patriarchate sources said.

    His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, who was received by John Paul II today in the Vatican, called for the immediate lifting of restrictions imposed in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, in force for more than five months. "Israel cannot control the will of a people calling for liberty," the patriarch said in a statement.

    Patriarch Sabbah, a Palestinian, was detained by members of the army when he was going by car to Ein Arik, a locality north of Ramala, to preside over a Lenten liturgy. The previous day, for similar reasons, he was also unable to visit a church in Bir Zeit, a university town north of Ramala.

    The patriarch stated that, by impeding his pastoral visit to the parish, the Israeli army violated the diplomatic agreement on freedom of worship, signed with the Holy See in 1994.

    The Israeli army and Foreign Affairs Ministry have made no comment. Israel justifies the blockade to avoid Palestinian attacks against Israelis. Over the past five months of conflicts, 423 people, most of them Palestinians, have been killed. ZE01031209

March 13, 2001
volume 12, no. 72
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