Israel and the Palestinians
Sir, - Your editors and reporters are to be commended for their coverage of the war of attrition being waged by Israelis against Palestinians. Since my arrival in Dublin on October 26th, after several months at Bethlehem University, I have learned to rely on The Irish Times for timely and unbiased reporting on the violence that has taken over 300 lives and forced the cancellation of the usual celebration of Christmas in Manger Square. What reporters largely miss, however, is the disastrous impact Israel's artillery and blockade tactics are having on people's daily lives. From colleagues in the Bethlehem University faculty I have learned of repeated instances of boys being beaten at checkpoints as they attempted to leave other West Bank cities such as Hebron to enter Bethlehem for classes. Petty harassment such as denial of entry or confiscation of one's all-important identification card is a daily affair, rendering it impossible for Palestinian residents of the West Bank to go to work or to school. Bombardment of homes in the Christian Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Jala has left a number of university faculty members homeless. The house of a physiotherapy professor, for example, received many missiles from an overhead helicopter because the woman's father-in-law and husband were seeing to the wounded in front of their door. There were 32 in an underground cave beneath the house during this particular bombing, including wounded people who were bleeding and children who were throwing up. These people are living temporarily in the hotels, empty of tourists since the violence began. I understand bombed-out residents of Ayda refugee camp in Bethlehem are living in tents.
Please keep the news spotlight on the plight of the Palestinians who, in the words of the Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah, are not throwing stones at Israelis "to aggress anyone: they are only defending their holy places, their freedom, and their life. Blood today is crying to God claiming for justice and human dignity." - Yours, etc.,
K.M. Kennelly, CSJ, Marino Institute of Education Griffith Avenue, Dublin.