Sunday, January 26

Last mass held in Beit Jala as court to rule on land seizure

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- 

Residents of Beit Jala held 

their last 

weekly mass Friday in an area threatened by Israel's 

separation wall as locals awaited a decision from Israel's 

Supreme Court on an appeal to halt the land seizure.

Around 60 Palestinians, internationals and representatives of 

the Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran churches gathered on 

an olive tree-covered hilltop in the Cremisan Valley to pray 

for a halt to Israel's separation wall, which is set to annex 

the entire lush green area north of Beit Jala.

The weekly mass, which has been held since 2011, is the 

last action by the largely Christian community before Israel's 

Supreme Court issues a final ruling on Jan. 29 regarding the 

route of the wall.

Rev. Ibrahim Shomali, a Catholic priest who led the mass, 

thanked the crowd for its support over the years and said it 

was now up to the Israeli court to decide on the "future of 

our presence in the Holy Land."

Issa Kassissieh, Palestine's ambassador to the Vatican, 

which owns the land threatened with confiscation, told 

Ma'an that the seizure was unacceptable.

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