Israel urged to reverse confiscation of church land

Protesters target an Israeli military vehicle in Bardala earlier this year. Church authorities have demanded the return of land seized by Israel. (AFP)
Updated 28 November 2018
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Israel urged to reverse confiscation of church land

  • Turning of church-owned property to a military compound is a “violation of the laws of war,” says commissioner

AMMAN: Palestinian religious leaders have called on Israel to allow the Latin Catholic Church to reclaim lands confiscated by Israel in the Jordan Valley.

Hanna Issa, secretary-general of the Islamic-Christian Commission in Support of Jerusalem and the Holy Sites, told Arab News that the turning of church-owned property to a military compound is a “violation of the laws of war.”

The commission said 267 dunums of land in the villages of Bardala and Tayseer in the Jordan Valley, being used for military purposes, are totally owned by the church. Catholic officials in Jerusalem and Amman were unavailable for comment.

Pope Francis welcomed Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to the Vatican on Nov. 15. They discussed the creation of conditions conducive to resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, as well as the status of Jerusalem.

Issa said the issue of land confiscations, especially in the Jordan Valley, looms larger after Israel’s Parliament passed a law that gives Jews special status over non-Jews. 

“These violations are part of a larger Israeli effort to Judaize all lands that belong to Arab Christians and Muslims,” he added.

Churches have been embroiled in a major confrontation with Israel over attempts to force them to pay taxes. 

This led to the closure for three days of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre in February until Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to solve the problem.


US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

Updated 24 May 2019
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US bolsters Middle East force with 1,500 troops as Pentagon blames Iran for tanker attacks

  • Donald Trump says the additional troops would serve a 'mostly protective' role
  • The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region earlier this month

WASHINGTON: The US will strengthen its force in the Middle East with 1,500 extra troops, Donald Trump said Friday as the Pentagon blamed Iran for an attack on oil tankers off the coast of the UAE.

"We want to have protection in the Middle East," Trump said as he left the White House for a trip to Japan. "We're going to be sending a relatively small number of troops, mostly protective.
"Some very talented people are going to the Middle East right now. And we'll see what happens."

Shortly after his comments, the Pentagon accused Iran's Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) of being directly responsible for attacks on tankers off the UAE earlier this month, describing it as part of a "campaign" by Tehran driving new US deployments.
"The attack against the shipping in Fujairah we attribute it to the IRGC," said Rear Admiral Michael Gilday, the director of the Joint Staff, adding the Pentagon attributed limpet mines used in the attack to the IRGC. He declined to describe "the means of delivery" of the mines.

The 1,500 extra troops will be made up of a deployment of 900 more forces, including engineers, and the extension of a tour by some 600 personnel manning Patriot missiles.

Officials said earlier that members of Congress were notified following a White House meeting Thursday to discuss Pentagon proposals to bolster the force in the region.
Earlier this week, officials said that Pentagon planners had outlined plans that could have sent up to 10,000 military reinforcements to the region. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan later said planners had not settled on a figure.
The US began reinforcing its presence in the Arabian Gulf region this month in response to what it said was a threat from Iran.

*With AP and Reuters