The delegation also met with Christian organizations in the Shepherds’ fields of Beit Sahour as part of a consultation visit ahead of the WCC 11th Assembly.
June 2022 marked 55 years since Israel began its military occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. At the meeting with the local representatives, they shared their testimonies of how the occupation controls Palestinians’ basic aspects of daily life. Their ability to move unimpeded within their own country, to exit and return, to develop large parts of their territory, build on their own land, access natural resources, and develop their economy are largely determined by the Israeli military and institutions.
The prolonged occupation, with no end in sight, cultivates a sense of hopelessness and frustration that drives continued violence and impacts both Palestinians and Israelis.
Occupation-related policies have isolated communities, ruptured social cohesion, deprived Palestinians of their human rights, affected economic activity, and undermined their right to self-determination and equality.
Sauca and the delegation saw firsthand how Christ’s love is communicated through the services and the advocacy work of church-related organizations. Their representative voice is important together with the church leadership to lead a way out of despair towards a promising future where Palestinians and Israelis can live together on this land with equal rights and opportunities.
“The importance of the Christian presence in Palestine and Israel cannot be underestimated,” Sauca said. “We have expressed concerns that Palestinian Christians are a diminishing minority—but their contribution to Palestinian society is unquestionably changing human lives for the better.”
The WCC invited the following organizations to be present in the meeting (in alphabetical order): Arab Educational Institute, Arab Orthodox Clubs, Bethlehem Bible College, Dar El Kalima, DSPR, ICC, JAI, Kairos Palestine, Pontifical Mission, SABEEL, St Yves, Wiam, YMCA, and YWCA.
After an exchange of different thoughts and discussions of how WCC and international brothers and sisters can support, Sauca said: “Non-governmental organizations are not just bringing many resources to those in need—they are bringing hope through action—a hope that goes beyond words into the homes and spirits of people who live and pray in the Holy Land every day. Please keep all of these organizations in your prayers as their voices and work on the ground continues to make a pronounced impact on the future of the Holy Land.”
Sauca was accompanied by delegation members Dr Audeh Quawas, a member of the WCC central committee from the Middle East; Marianne Ejdersten, WCC director of Communication; and Yusef Daher, coordinator of the WCC Jerusalem Liaison Office.