The town of Mhardeh in the province of Hama, Syria is currently surrounded by the radical extremists who are making all kinds of threats against the residents including the threat of beheading. The town is comprised of approximately 50,000 Antiochian Orthodox Christians. Residents are starting to flee and thus another Syrian Christian town is emptied of its population.
Damascus, July 23, 2014
Extract: "At a time when Syria's wounds have been bleeding for more than three years, amidst the wounds of Iraq, which has experienced conflict since the 1980's, amidst the unrest that is sweeping countries near and far, and amidst the world's indifference to Palestine's wounds, which have not healed in almost seventy years, these days in particular we are witnessing a multiplication of these wounds in the expulsion of Mosul's Christians and the all-out assault on Gaza amidst a disgraceful international silence." Full text here.
Message via The Stones Cry Out: "Sharing another message from Abuna [Father] Mario who shares with us the situation in Gaza.
"The church of Gaza has received an order to evacuate.. they will bomb the Zeitun area and the people are already fleeing. The problem is that the priest Fr. George and the three nuns of Mother Teresa have 29 handicapped children and 9 old ladies who can't move. How will they manage to leave?? If anyone can intercede with someone in power, and pray, please do it. We are trying.. may our impotence be taken up by his Omnipotence!!"
An article and video from electronicintifada.net via al-Bushra the Latin Catholic chaplaincy for Middle East Christian in the U.S.
electronicintifada.net reports: In her latest post, my colleague Rania Khalek makes reference to “a new racist chant mocking the more than two hundred children slaughtered by Israel’s merciless bombing campaign in Gaza: ‘Tomorrow there’s no school in Gaza, they don’t have any children left.’”
This video shows an Israeli mob actually singing in celebration of children’s deaths in the style of a soccer fans’ song: “In Gaza there’s no studying, No children are left there, Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé.”
The mob also incites directly against Ahmed Tibi and Haneen Zoabi, two prominent Palestinian citizens of Israel who are members of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
The video of the 26 July event in Tel Aviv was published by Israeli journalist Haim Har-Zahav.
The words of the repulsive song have been translated for The Electronic Intifada by Dena Shunra:
Tibi – Ahmed Tibi
I wanted you to know
The next kid to be hurt will be your kid
I hate Tibi
I hate Tibi the terrorist.
Tibi – is dead!
Tibi – is dead!
Tibi – is dead!
Tibi is a terrorist.
Tibi is a terrorist.
Tibi is a terrorist.
They’ll take their papers away.
They’ll take their papers away.
They’ll take their papers away.
Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé
In Gaza there’s no studying
No children are left there,
Olé, olé, olé-olé-olé,
[Three lines, not entirely clear]
Who is getting nervous, I hear?
Zoabi, this here is the Land of Israel
This here is the Land of Israel, Zoabi
This here is the Land of the Jews
I hate you, I do, Zoabi
I hate all the Arabs.
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
Gaza is a graveyard
See also: "I am close to you"
Video from CNS - Catholic News Service.
ISIS: From Syria to Iraq America is never far out of the picture.
Above left to right: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry addressing the Geneva II Peace Conference this January 2014, behind his shoulder is former U.S. Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, chief organiser of the Syrian “opposition” delegation at Geneva. Centre: U.S. Ambassador Robert Ford in northern Syria in May 2013 last with rebel Free Syrian Army Colonel Abdul-Jabbar who at that time was head of the, western backed and funded, Aleppo Military Council. Right: Colonel Abdul-Jabbar celebrating,in August 2013 last, with ISIS Emir Abu Jandal after their forces jointly capture a military airport.
Gaza, Aleppo, Mosul. Death three times over. Countries of horror. Land of absolute evil. The time of reaping has come. The scythe slashes through heads and bodies. The vampires will not be satisfied.
Gaza, Aleppo, Mosul. Three corners of a triangle. The borders of the Levant are drowning in the blood of its children. Borders drawn with the blood of human victims. Victims of blind hate. Victims of religious and sectarian extremism. Victims of racism. Sacred texts bear their teeth. Their mouths open wide, thirsting for flesh and blood. Kill. Fight. Exterminate. Expel. Burn. Extirpate. Behead. Slaughter. Take captives. Chase them from their homes... Sacred texts carry the weight of these acts. Multifaceted texts from which the reader selects what suits him and justifies his perverse lusts, ignoring the verses that call for peace, love and mercy...
Texts of ink and paper have become more precious than human flesh and blood. The human person, whom God honors and prefers over all creatures has become a worm crushed by a hateful, murderous
"You are the best community that has been raised up for mankind. You enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency" (Surat Al Imran 110). Has slaughtering Mosul's Christians like sheep and expelling them become the right conduct that the Qur'an commands? Has protecting their blood, livelihood, and churches become indecency? Did you face Mecca when you slaughtered them so that your sacrifice would be halal and your consciences at ease?
Did you say "in the name of God, the munificent, the merciful" when you slit their throats? How do you believe in the munificent, merciful God yet show no mercy or compassion to humans? How do
you cry out "God is most great" yet make yourself greater than God who creates souls and takes them at the hour of His choosing? How do you cry out "God is most great" yet treat humans with
pride, arrogance and contempt?
As for "God's chosen people", chosen exclusively be an irrevocable agency! "You have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations because of you, for the Lord your God is He who has fought for you" (Joshua 23:3). Their god fought for them and exterminated the nations of the land that they occupied. Will their god spare Gaza? In the name that very same god they pick a fight over Gaza and appropriate it.
But the members of ISIS also believe that God fights for them: "You did not kill them, but rather God killed them. You did not throw when you threw, but rather God threw" (Surat al-Anfal 17). The ISISites have returned to a religion from before the Prophet Abraham. God stopped Abraham from offering his son as a sacrifice and sent him a ram from heaven in his place. God rendered human sacrifices null and void and replaced them with animal sacrifices. But the followers of al-Baghdadi continue to lust for human sacrifices. Woe to them and to their worship!
As for Christians, over history they have not hesitated to launch wars and commit massacres in the name of the God of love. This list is long, and we will not mention any of them other than what has happened in Lebanon during the constant sectarian wars over the past century and a half. In the name of defending Christian existence, the Christians were led to commit heinous acts that please neither Christ nor the saints of His Church.
Jews, Christians, Muslims are equal in sin just as in righteousness. The Sunni people of Gaza do not incite Sunni regimes to behave honorably, so how can a handful of Christians in this raging
sea incite them to behave honorably?
Gaza, Aleppo, Mosul. Three times over the line is drawn between humanity and barbarism. Zionism, ISIS and sectarianism are merely aspects of the same barbarism.
The retired Latin Catholic parish priest of Gaza, Msgr. Manuel Musalam, President of the Islamic-Christian Commission for the protection of Jerusalem and the Holy Places , in an act that symbolises the unity of the Palestinian people in their time of suffering has told Gaza Muslims “If they [Israel] destroy your mosques raise the Azan [Muslim call to prayer] from our churches.”
Extract: “Many Muslims are now shy to declare themselves Muslim. Several Muslim told me: ‘I am ashamed—I do not understand that Islam is like that." So I think it is the time for a true dialogue." Read his interview here.
Extract from Vatican Radio: Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako says the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate quickly. He said the country has suffered tremendously at the hands of the ISIS militant group, also known as Islamic State—extremist Muslim rebels, who one month ago declared a caliphate on the border with Syria and Iraq.
With ISIS pledging to expand its control over the region, there is very little relief from the attacks in sight.Read the full article here.
Article from the secular Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar
The patriarchal residence in the town of Atchanah in Lebanon’s Metn region brought together yesterday representatives of the churches of Mosul five days after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) forced Iraqi Christians out of the city. This is the first time that Mosul’s Christian population has been driven out of the city and is the largest forced displacement since the Armenian genocide. Nevertheless, there are people who still believe in returning despite a Western and Arab failure to act.
Until last week, ISIS was just a “joke” or a “boogieman created by the Syrian regime to scare minorities and keep them by its side.” That is why kidnapping the two bishops, Boulos al-Yazigi and Youhana Ibrahim, near Aleppo a year and a half ago did not serve as an adequate warning of how serious and extremist these fundamentalist movements are. The occupation of Maaloula and the burning of its churches did not change anything in the Syrian scene and the kidnapping of the nuns was not met with a response proportional to the crime. All this passed in absolute lightness as some Lebanese politicians scoffed at the fundamentalist danger: this is the people’s revolution.
Last February, ISIS issued a decree similar to Mosul’s decree in the Syrian city of al-Raqqa, asking Christians to pay a religious levy in gold and minimize the appearances of any of their religious paraphernalia. Then they began carrying out judgements based on “Islamic law” from lashes to killing, crucifixions and stoning. But it is that same old lightness - intentional perhaps - that drove some to say “there are people extending the life of the regime by fabricating news and videos and misleading journalists and foreign news
Having already destroyed the graves within the shrine the terrorist group ISIS has now completely destroyed the shrine of the biblical Prophet Jonah (Prophet Younis) a site in Mosul sacred to both Muslim and Christian.
agencies.” That is why it took ISIS crossing the Syrian border towards Iraq for some people to become conscious of the danger... and recognize it, if only to avoid embarrassment.
Last Saturday was the deadline that ISIS gave Christians in Mosul to either convert to Islam, pay a religious levy, leave the city or die by the sword. As a result, about 10,000 Christians left Mosul. Nothing like this has happened since the Armenian genocide in Turkey about a hundred years ago.
Ignatius Aphrem II, patriarch of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Antioch and All the East, said that most of the Christian families fled to Kurdistan and the Nineveh Plains while others went to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Remarkably, Aphrem II said that some families insisted on staying in Mosul, adding: “we lost contact with them.” Until now, “there is no information whatsoever about the fate of these families,” he confirmed.
Why this injustice? What have we done to you? This is just like the Lord Jesus said “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves."
Yesterday Aphrem II headed a meeting at the patriarchal residence in Atchanah - Bikfaya, five days after the “war crime,” as he called it in his message, that included representatives of the five churches found in Mosul to discuss the situation of Christians in the city. The ecclesiastic gathering was large, it included patriarchal vicar of the Syriac Catholic Patriarchal Diocese, Youhanna Jihad Battah, Chaldean bishop of Lebanon, Michel Kasarji, priest of the Assyrian Church of the East in Lebanon, Fr. Yathroun Koulianos, general secretary of the Middle East Council of Churches, Fr. Michel Jalkh, Fr. Carlo Yeshuah, associate secretaries of the Middle East Council of Churches, Deacon Jimmy Danho and Mr. Elias Halabi, bishops of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Lebanon, president of the Syriac League, Habib Afram in addition to the Iraqi cleric Abdel Rahim al-Musawi, Iraq’s Ambassador in Lebanon Dr. Raad al-Alousi and Iraq’s consul in Lebanon, Dr. Walid Abdel Qader al-Issa.
In his message, Patriarch Aphrem II condemned incidents “considered barbaric and unprecedented in the history of Christian-Muslim relations in this region. ISIS systematically forced Christians out of the city of Mosul labeling them with racist signs and symbols, humiliating and luting them.” He called on Muslims and their leaders to “take a clear stance,” expressing astonishment at the prevailing silence “except for some Muslim religious leaders and civil dignitaries.” He went on to say that injustices such as “burning churches and taking over holy sites will not compel us to ask for Western protection or help.”
International Business Times reports
As the American government is contemplating on whether or not to launch an airstrike on ISIS that is threatening to destroy Iraq, reports have now surfaced that way back in 2012, the US Army had trained members of the same terrorist group in Jordan. Full article here
He declared however: “We are going to address the United Nations (UN) and the highest international and human rights fora to hold them accountable to the Bill of Rights they claim to support.” He called on the Iraqi government and “Kurdish brothers” to protect Christians. He also said that an urgent meeting will be convened soon with the patriarchs of the East and a Christian delegation from the East will be formed to take this issue before the UN and other international platforms.
In response to a question on whether the church is in contact with Iraqi authorities, Ephram II said there is no direct coordination with any of the civil or political authorities in Iraq but the bishops are in contact with Kurdish authorities to “secure a decent living for our children.” The patriarch asserted that “these terrorist parties are supported by states.” At the same time, he held the Iraqi government responsible for the security and safety of Iraqi Christians.
Sheikh Abdel Rahim al-Musawi described what is happening as “ethnic cleansing. It is our moral, national and religious duty to stand in solidarity. Not just stand in solidarity but we should go a lot further than that, we should go to the highest international organizations in the world to put a stop to this abuse of people’s lives, blood and property.”
The conference, which was broadcast live on a number of TV stations, did not last more than half an hour. However, as expected, its resonance ended with the end of the broadcast. Iraq’s Christians were forcibly displaced from their homes in 2003 and now they are going through the same experience again after 11 years amid a lethal Western and Arab silence. One of the churches of Mosul, built 1,500 years ago, was burned and crosses have been removed from other churches.
Mosul’s Christian families have fled to relatively safe areas in Iraq. Most of them today are housed in schools or are simply out on the sidewalks as they wait for refugee camps to be built or to be transferred to decent housing. According to those present, there are no armed Christian groups except those guarding villages and cities.
This is the first time that Mosul is emptied of its Christians amid fear that ISIS might reach other areas in the Nineveh province. Patriarch Aphrem II and the heads of other churches are trying as much as possible to put pressure on relevant parties, for “we still believe in returning.” In the end, they issued a message to the Lebanese media: “Mosul deserves a united news bulletin like Gaza.” Original article here
Statement via the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference
The death and destruction that we are witnessing in certain parts of the Middle East is truly shocking and heart-breaking. I encourage all Christians and all people of goodwill to pray for an end to the conflicts in Iraq, in Syria, in Palestine, and in Israel.
Persecution of some Christian communities in Iraq has reached new levels and for the first time it is reported that there are no longer Christians in the city of Mosul. The horrific ongoing war in Syria and the terrible bombing and ground offensive in Gaza and Israel, have claimed the lives of too many people. Children and families are being particularly affected by displacement from their homes and destruction of livelihoods.
The images of death and destruction emerging daily from these places are all the more distressing when we consider the rich cultural and religious heritage of this region and, in particular, its deep spiritual significance to the Abrahamic faiths. The violence and devastation of these days shows the horror that is unleashed when differences of faith and identity are allowed to obscure the bonds of our common humanity.
The plight of persecuted and endangered Christian communities in the Middle East is a particular challenge to the whole world. Pope Francis has said: “Dear brothers and sisters who are so persecuted, I know how much you suffer, I know that you are stripped of everything. I am with you in the faith of the one who has conquered evil!”
I call on the international community not to tolerate the denial of basic human rights and to protect the safety of those trapped in the conflict zones, as well as those who risk their lives to bring much-needed humanitarian aid.
Pope Francis has said: “Prayer helps us not let ourselves be defeated by evil or resign ourselves to violence and hatred having the upper hand over dialogue and reconciliation”. I therefore invite everybody to join in solidarity with all who are suffering in the Middle East and to pray, both personally and at Masses, for peace and justice in these lands.
Bishop of Dromore John McAreavey, Chairman of the [Irish] Bishops’ Council for Justice and Peace. Original statment here
"Another update from Gaza also from Abuna Mario: "The bombing and the shelling are at the doors of the church.. Fr. George has had to leave his home, which is no longer secure and has moved into the church with the three nuns of Mother Theresa and the 29 handicapped children.. we can't do anything but pray and ask God to make it all end soon!!" (Fr. George is the priest who received a letter from Papa Francesco last week.)" Via the Stones Cry Out
From the Italian website Vatican Insider a blog of the Italian newspaper la República
Chaldean website ankawa.com says a university professor was killed after speaking out against anti-Christian persecution. Meanwhile, the Islamic State has set the jizyah [tax on religious minorities] at 450 dollars.
He refused to keep silent about the violence agaist Mosul’s Christians who are forced to choose between converting to the Muslim faith, paying the jizyah (the Islamic tax for non-Muslims) or fleeing. Professor Mahmoud Al ‘Asali, a law professor who lectures on pedagogy at the University of Mosul, had the courage to make a stand against this brutal duress which he believes go against the Muslim commandments. But he paid for this gesture with his life: he was killed by ISIS militants in Mosul yesterday.
Chaldean website ankawa.com - one of the news sources that offers the promptest updates on the inferno Christians are experiencing in Iraq – announced the news. Amidst the ocean of tragedies currently being witnessed in the Middle Eastern country, the website did not want to let this act of great courage go unnoticed. Professor Ali ‘Asali knew what he was risking: everyone in Mosul knows that in Raqqa - the Syrian city which the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant seized last year –there are many human rights activists who have paid for their opposition to ISIS’ acts of intolerance with their own lives. But Al ‘Asali was nevertheless unable to stand by in silence.
And so are many other Muslims, who have launched the “I am Iraqi, I am Christian” campaign in response to the letter N’s written on the walls of Christian homes in Mosul. Yesterday some of them turned up outside the Chaldean Church of St. George in Baghdad, with a banner displaying the slogan and posted a picture on Facebook.
But these acts of rebellion have not been successful in stopping the madness of Islamic State fundamentalists. And so today, the ethnic cleansing continued, with the jizyah – the Islamic “protection” tax which all non-Muslims are required to pay if they wish to stay or return to Mosul – being applied. The monthly figure to be paid is 450 dollars, which is an impossible sum for anyone living in Northern Iraq to pay. Today, yet another historic Christian location fell intot he hands of the Islamic State: the building in question is the Syro-Catholic monastery of Mar Benham, close to Qaraqosh, the Christian city in the Nineveh Plain where the majority of Christians have fled to. Monks have been present in mar Benham since the 4th century approximately. “They forced the three monks and some families residing in the monastery to go away and leave the keys behind,” the Syro-catholic bishop of Mosul, Yohanna Petros Moshe told Fides news agency. The Bagdadhope blog reported that the monastery underwent restoration work in 1986 and became a pilgrimage destination for Christians and some Muslims too. Original article here
Dozens of young Christians and Muslims belonging to civil society organizations gathered Sunday in a Baghdad Church to participate in a solidarity protest forced displacement persecution of Mousl’s Christians of Mosul by the ISIS ( IS - Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant/Sham). Report in Arabic form ankawa.com here.
The Holy Koran refuses Coercion in Islam
“Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error. Whoever rejects false worship and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things.”[Sûrah al-Baqarah: 256] Koran
“If it had been your Lord’s will, all of the people on Earth would have believed. Would you then compel the people so to have them believe?” [Sûrah Yûnus: 99] Koran
Syriac Catholic Patriarch of Antioch, the leader of one of the world's oldest Christian communities, has been at the Vatican pleading for the future of his community in a meeting with the French prelate Mamberti.
Vatican City, July 19 – The seat of the Syrian Catholic Archeparchy of Mosul in Iraq has been burned down by members of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, and the situation for Iraqi Christians has become dramatic, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan told Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Dominique Mamberti on Saturday. The Islamist militants have threatened to kill Christians unless they convert to Islam. “It’s terrible. This is shameful for the international community,” the patriarch said. Via agi news agency.
Full text of Patriarch's appeal in Arabic here
The French Moroccan prelate responsible for Vatican relations with foreign states, Dominique Mamberti, seen here in 2007 dining with Tony Blair one of the principle authors of Iraq’s destruction.
Extract from an article by the Russian Orthodox media outlet Pravmir
Russian President Vladimir Putin hopes that the Orthodox Church will make its contribution to establishing peace in the Middle East.
Putin, who met representatives of local Orthodox Churches at the Holy Trinity — St. Sergius Monastery on Friday, wished Metropolitan Timothy of Vostra, the Patriarchate of Jerusalem, success in serving in a unique place like Jerusalem, the cradle of Christianity.
Regrettably, the president said, the Middle East had been torn by various conflicts for many years. “Today, we can see a new conflict flaring up there again — with bloodshed and human casualties. We are anxiously watching what’s going on (in the Middle East),” the Russian leader went on to say.
“But I am sure that the presence of the Orthodox Church will play a positive role in reconciling the warring parties,” the president stressed.
“In the end, everybody comes to peace. Only, it is important to make this road as short as possible and avoid inflicting huge casualties on the way to peace,” Putin said. Full article here.
Above left: Fr. Jorge Hernandez celebrates Easter vigil Mass at Holy Family Latin Catholic Church 2012 and above right: Easter Service at St. Porphyrios Rum Orthodox Church. Gaza Palestine. Photos Jeff Bright
Elderly Christian woman leaving Mosul
Video compilation of events and news items regarding the expulsion of Christians from Mosul, Iraq
ISIS attack on the ethno-religious community of Shia Turkman. After attacking the Turkmen village of BESHIR (Kirkuk province) and forcing all its inhabitants to flee, ISIS mercenaries destroyed the school, library, religious sites and cemetery in the village.
Article from the Vatican Pontifical Missions News Agency, Fides
The Israeli army's ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, concentrated in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, was accompanied by intensified air and naval raids also on Gaza City throughout the night. The small Catholic parish in Gaza, dedicated to the Holy Family, is employed in the humanitarian emergency triggered by the military intervention. Pastor Jorge Hernandez, Argentine missionary of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, has welcomed numerous family groups in the school premises who have fled from their homes situated in the bombed areas, and since this morning is engaged in the search for water and food for the displaced.
"I spoke with the families of the parish" refers to Fides Agency Sister Laudis, a religious of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, currently in Beit Jala after leaving the Gaza Strip, "everyone told me that they did not slept a wink all night because of the bombing. The houses were shaking, the children were crying".
In this dramatic situation, Pope Francis sent a short message to the parish priest and the small Catholic community in Gaza to show his closeness. "I am close to you, to the nuns and the entire Catholic community. I accompany you with my prayers and my closeness. May Jesus bless you and the Blessed Virgin protect you", reads the brief text, published on the website of the Institute of the Incarnate Word. "Yesterday evening", says Sister Laudis to Fides "father Jorge translated the text in Arabic to make it known to all families. Everybody was touched by the message". Original article here.
Image from the twitter account of the "Islamic State" (ISIS Da'ash).
Recent footage published by the "Islamic State" - formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) - shows how the jihadists are implementing Sharia law in different parts of areas they occupy by carrying out penalties against various crimes. One of the scenes shows the militants bringing a blindfolded man whom they accuse of being a "sorcerer".
Meanwhile in Iraq ISIS (IS Islamic State/ of Iraq and the Levant-Sham) have burned the Syriac Catholic Diocesan residence in Mosul. Ishtar TV reports in Arabic
Article from the Vatican’s Pontifical Missions News Agency, Fides
The 5-hour truce - from 10 to 15 local time - proclaimed also to allow the entry of humanitarian aid in the Gaza Strip should also allow the evacuation from the area of a few hundred people. Among others, the three Sisters of the Institute of the Incarnate Word - all foreigners - operating at the Catholic parish dedicated to the Holy Family are preparing to leave the Strip, too. "Yesterday afternoon, after five pm" said the Brazilian Sister Laudis to Fides Agency "three missiles destroyed a house very close to the parish.
For several days the Sisters of Mother Teresa with the 28 disabled children and nine elderly women cared for by them moved to the parish because they considered it a safer place. And all of them will remain in Gaza, along with the parish priest Fr. Jorge Hernandez". Since ten o'clock - sources of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem report – the permanent Eucharistic adoration has begun in the parish and today the Holy Mass will be celebrated "to implore forgiveness for all, justice and peace". In short messages disseminated by the Institute of the Incarnate Word, Fr. Jorge and Sr. Gladis describe in detail the condition experienced by the small Catholic community and the entire population of Gaza: "What is certain", writes Fr. Jorge "is that crimes are increasing.
Young children are beginning to get sick because of fear, stress, shock waves and for the continuous noise. Parents are doing everything they can to distract them by playing, jumping and dancing every time they hear an explosion".
Meanwhile, to date, the death toll of the Israeli military operation on the Gaza Strip has caused at least 227 deaths among Palestinians, mostly civilians. In the few hours of the ceasefire, the population of Gaza is out in the streets to get money from the banks and buy basic necessities. Original article here.
Extract from a report by Russia Today:
An image of Israelis in Sderot who gathered on a hill to watch and celebrate Gaza being bombed has gone viral on Twitter. The photo posted by a Danish journalist caused uproar online.
llan Sørensen, the Middle Eastern correspondent for the Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad, said that he took the image on Wednesday in Sderot, a city about two kilometers from Gaza.
In just a few days the scandalous image has gathered about 8,500 retweets.
The picture sparked confusion and outrage among social media users, with many questioning the morality of making a scene of murder a public spectacle and celebrating it.
One more user commented that people like those in the picture were “encouraging a culture of death.”
The newspaper’s follow-up article on Friday described the scene in details where over 50 people had gathered for a “party.” Full article here.
Article from the Vatican’s Pontifical Missions news service, Fides
Mosul (Agenzia Fides) - The jihadist militiamen of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), who since June 9 control Mosul and have proclaimed the Islamic Caliphate, have ordered civil servants to suspend any provision of food aid and gas cylinders to the Shiites, the Kurds and the few remaining Christians in Iraq's second city. This is confirmed to Fides Agency by Christian sources in Mosul, after the news had been launched by the Arab website www.ankawa.com.
According to what was reported by the local official Fadel Younis, representatives of the Islamic Caliphate have announced that any infringement of the prohibition will be punished on the basis of rules attributed to the Sharia.
In the city of northern Iraq - confirm sources of the Chaldean Patriarchate to Fides - even houses abandoned by the baptized are "marked" with the first letter of the Arabic word Nazarat (Christian).
Meanwhile in Baghdad MPs have elected the Sunni, Salim al-Jubouri as President of Parliament. Therefore the Iraqi political class is trying to start the process for the formation of a new government, while a third of the Country remains under the control of Islamist militias of the ISIL. In the last hours the army has launched an offensive to regain control of the city of Tikrit, the hometown of Sadddam Hussein, largely occupied by the ISIL in recent weeks. Original here.
The news and analysis website Global Research reports:
The former employee at US National Security Agency (NSA), Edward Snowden, has revealed that the British and American intelligence and the Mossad worked together to create the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Snowden said intelligence services of three countries created a terrorist organisation that is able to attract all extremists of the world to one place, using a strategy called “the hornet’s nest”.
NSA documents refer to recent implementation of the hornet’s nest to protect the Zionist entity by creating religious and Islamic slogans.
According to documents released by Snowden, “The only solution for the protection of the Jewish state “is to create an enemy near its borders”.
Leaks revealed that ISIS leader and cleric Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi took intensive military training for a whole year in the hands of Mossad, besides courses in theology and the art of speech. Original article here
From the Assyrian news out let Ishtar TV
Article from the Vatican’s Pontifical Missions News Service, Fides
In recent days, the signals of a possible, forthcoming offensive of the Syrian government seeking to recapture areas held by the rebels in the urban area of Aleppo, in the north of the Country are increasing. There are growing rumors that in the areas of Aleppo under government control, elite military teams seem to have already arrived accompanied by Hezbollah militiamen, the Lebanese Shiite party.
The Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, Antoine Audo SJ, tells Fides Agency: "In recent days there have been fewer rocket attacks. This may suggest the calm before the storm. Everyone says that, when it happens, the battle in Aleppo will be the 'final battle'. But we do not know yet what it will mean for us all. There is widespread expectation of a release, there is the hope of being freed from the war of position which has divided the city for almost two years. But there is also the fear that all areas are appalled by the bombing, or reprisals carried out by the rebels. Or even the fear of ending up like in Mosul. Everyone senses, albeit vaguely, that what is happening here is not a local issue, but it is conditioned by regional and global power clashes".
In this climate, marked by conflicting feelings, the effort to move forward and find a way to meet the most basic needs prevails: "Even now there is no water", refers to Fides the Chaldean Bishop of Aleppo, "We have reopened the wells in churches and mosques to help the population. We continue to carry out assistance programs with volunteers of Caritas. People are exhausted. And we do what we can do".
Since July 2012 Aleppo has been divided between the western sectors, controlled by the government army, and the areas of the eastern part, in the hands of the rebels. In recent days, the regime media reported that Assad's army has regained control of the industrial area in the north of the city. In the face of the new advance of government troops, some spokesmen of the rebel factions have accused the regime in Damascus and the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) to be allies and aim at dividing the territories released from the control of other anti-Assad forces. ISIL fighters have taken over large portions of the territory in Syria and Iraq, where they have proclaimed the restoration of the Islamic Caliphate. Original article here
First reports have emerged in the last few hours that the two nuns and three orphans who were abducted in Mosul, Iraq on June 28th by the ISIS terrorist group have been released and are in the town of Dohuk in Kurdish Iraq. Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Mar Raphael I Louis Sako said he is gratified that the process of release had been without paying any ransom to the kidnappers and he thanked all those who contributed to the release. Saudi financed ISIS terrorists had rampaged into the city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city on June 9th. A news brief here in Arabic via saintadday.com
Article from the CNS (Catholic News Service).
JERUSALEM (CNS) -- Members of the tiny Christian community in the Gaza Strip have been keeping tabs on each other and lending a helping hand to keep each other safe during Israeli airstrikes
throughout the region, but nowhere in the territory is really safe, said a priest at the territory's only Catholic parish.
Father Jorge Hernandez, an Argentine member of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, said that one night, after a bomb siren sounded, he helped three Sisters of Charity evacuate 20 handicapped children from their home to his.
"We had to carry all the children in our arms," Father Hernandez told Catholic News Service in a telephone interview. "There is no space in my house, so we laid down blankets on the floor and put
the children there.
"It was very intense and there was a lot of fear, but the bomb fell farther away," he said.
Israel has said that its airstrikes in populated areas are targeted to the homes of militants, and they give phone warnings to all civilians in the house to leave the premises before attacking. The airstrikes began July 8.
Dr. Hanna Issa of the The Islamic Christian Commission For Jerusalem and the Holy Places has condemned Israel’s attack on Gaza. Dr. Hanna Issa - an international law expert said that the Israeli escalation against the Gaza Strip comes in the context of a pre-prepared war on Palestinian civilians there, despite Israel's claim that it was a response to the killing of three settlers in the city of Hebron and for rockets fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israeli towns. Dr. Issa said that Israel is in flagrant violation of the rules of international humanitarian law, waging air strikes on innocent citizens and their places of residence, which left more than 75 martyrs and more than 680 injured in three days, including women and children, and the elderly. Despite international appeals to Israel to stop its aggression on the Gaza Strip, it continues its aggression on various areas in the besieged Gaza Strip by Israel. Full text here in Arabic.
While some people leave after the phone calls, there have been reports of others climbing on the roofs of houses to act as human shields. Almost half of the more than 100 Gazan dead are
civilians, including women and children.
Father Hernandez said that three Gaza neighborhoods had been warned to evacuate, but there are no safety zones large enough for all the residents. Instead, the people seek refuge in government- and U.N.-run school buildings, he said.
"Everything is so close there is no place for them to go," he said. "They are 100,000 people who have been told to leave, and then there is the problem of food and water for them. It is an enormous problem."
The people of Gaza suspected that an attack was imminent a few days before Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, so the people prepared themselves by stocking supplies. Some neighborhood stores remain open, Father Hernandez said, and Israel has said it continues to allow food and humanitarian supplies to be taken into Gaza by truck. Media reported some 240 Palestinians with foreign passports have been allowed to leave the Gaza Strip.
The Rosary Sisters serving in Gaza had left to visit their families when school ended, he said, as had his assistant priest, a Brazilian also from the Institute of the Incarnate Word. Three nuns
of the same order -- from Argentina, Brazil and Egypt -- are currently in Gaza serving the parish.
Israelis in southern Israel have been under constant attack from missiles lobbed at them from within Gaza by Hamas militants, and residents of southern Israel have spent long hours in bomb shelters. Israel said July 11 that more than 550 rockets had been fired into Israel reaching into Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and as far north as the coastal city of Zichron Yaakov. Though there has been significant property damage, only one civilian and two soldiers have been reported injured. Most of the rockets have been intercepted by Israel's Iron Dome defense system.
The bombings are not the only thing worrying the small Christian community in Gaza, Father Hernandez said.
Hamas is very strong in Gaza, he said, "and that makes people afraid that if the conflict continues for a long time -- which it looks it will if someone does not come and stop it -- there will be
popular reaction against the Christians, as they have seen happen in other conflicts in the region."
"When (the militants) see they are threatened and are going to lose, they usually go against the weaker segment of the population," the priest said.
In addition, he said, before Operation Protective Edge began, an extremist Islamic group active in Iraq and Syria had demonstrated in Gaza.
"So you can see up to what level of fanaticism there is here, and people know that and (people) are afraid," he said.
Father Hernandez described as a "cocktail" of very extreme forces present in Gaza and said the tiny Christian population was worried because of what they have seen happen to Christian communities in Syria and Iraq. Original article here.
The Times of Israel reported on 22/02/2014 that Turkish based Syrian opposition leader Muhammad Badie had praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for publicly voicing support for rebels wounded in the drawn-out conflict in Syria which is now entering its fourth year. The Image on the left shows Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visiting an army field hospital located in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights which is offering medical treatment to Syrian rebels.
Article via the media outlet Global Research
The participants in the Holy Synod of Antioch in Lebanon denounced the silence of the world over the terrorist crimes committed against the Syrian people.
The remarks came in a statement marking the 3rd session of the Synod, which was chaired by Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch and All the East John X Yazigi.
The participants also called for reaching an end to the crisis in Syria and releasing all kidnapped persons, especially bishops John Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, who were kidnapped by terrorists in Aleppo in April 2013. Original article here.
Orthodoxy Cognate Society & Media Network reports.
SIS militants in Iraq have been filmed ruthlessly smashing centuries-old graves to pieces in the city of Mosul. The shocking video footage was posted online this week.
It shows rebels in balaclavas and black coats destroying tombs with sledgehammers, amidst swirls of dust and piles of rocks. It is unknown when the video was taken.
Iraqi authorities, according to the Daily Mail, have confirmed that one of the smashed graves belonged to the Prophet Jonah (Younis in Arabic), who is revered by Muslims and Christians alike and is best known as the main character of the Book of Jonah.
According to the famous story of prophet, he was swallowed by a giant fish. He is regarded as a saint by a number of Christian denominations.
“Elements of ISIS [have] controlled the mosque of the Prophet Younis in Mosul since they invaded the city,”Ninevah official Zuhair Al-Chalabi was cited as saying by IraqiNews.com.
Along with Prophet Jonah’s tomb, ISIS also reportedly destroyed the shrine of the prophet Shayth (Seth).
Vatican’s Pontifical Missions News Service, Fides reports: The capture of Mosul by the jihadists of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which began on June 9, besides causing the exodus of a large part of the population - both Christian and Muslim - has convinced those responsible of the local Syrian Orthodox community to also take security measures with regards to the relics attributed to St. Thomas, hitherto worshiped at the town church dedicated to the Apostle. Full article here.
Sunni radicals overran Mosul last month and torched 11 Christian churches, monasteries and mosques in and around the historic northern Iraqi city.
Mosul was captured on June 10 when Sunni militants drove the Iraqi army out of the city.
Thousands of civilians fled as jihadists took control of the city in their battle against the Shiite majority Baghdad government led by Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
On June 30, ISIS jihadists declared the captured territories from Iraq’s Diyala province to Syria’s Aleppo a “caliphate” and changed the group’s name to ‘The Islamic State”.
The Sunni radical leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been calling on Muslims to come to Iraq and Syria and join the battle to create the “caliphate.” Original article here.
Iran's Press TV reports.
Takfiri militants from the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have demolished several holy shrines and mosques belonging to Shia and Sunni Muslims in the militancy-riddled regions of Nineveh Province.
A large number of civilians fleeing Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh say the ISIL terrorists destroyed a number of religious landmarks in the northern cities of Mosul and Tal Afar.
Several video footage and pictures released online by the ISIL also show the Takfiri militants bulldozing Sunni shrines while blowing up Shia mosques.
Latest reports say the militants have razed at least four shrines belonging to revered Sunni or Sufi figures. The extremists also leveled six Shia mosques to the ground.
Local residents and witnesses say the militants have occupied two Orthodox cathedrals and replaced crosses with their black flags. They had previously demolished several churches.
All destructions have taken place in and around the volatile region of Mosul.
The ISIL Takfiri militants also issued several statements in recent days calling for the destruction of all religious and historic sites in the country.
Witnesses said the militants destroyed symbols of Iraq's heritage in the city of Mosul, including statues of cultural icons and the tomb of a medieval philosopher.
IraqiNews.com reports: The Chaldean Church in Iraq warned of a possible “end of Christian history” in Iraq, which is due to more than 2,000 years, if the current situation did not change, indicating that the presence of its followers in the country has become “symbolic” because of the continuing migration to the outside as a result of the violence that affect them. Full article here.
The ISIL and its associated militant groups are blamed for numerous sacrilegious acts. The terrorist groups have links with Saudi intelligence and it is believed that they are being indirectly supported by the Israeli regime.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has also blamed Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the security crisis and growing terrorism in his country, denouncing Riyadh as a major supporter of global terrorism. Original article here
Report from Vatican Radio
“The situation was already bleak but now it has got a whole deal worse. For the first time the ever, the bishops have raised the doomsday scenario of an Iraq emptied of Christians” reports John Pontifex, spokesman for the UK branch of the global Catholic Aid Agency, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN UK).
ACN has been in close contact with the bishops of Iraq as the struggle to face the onslaught of the ISIS jihadists, and watch their people flee from cities such as Mosul, their churches being torn to the ground and innocent men, women and even children, Christian and Muslim, being savagely killed.
Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako of Baghdad described how the rate of Christians leaving Iraq was growing and went on to raise the spectre of Christianity in Iraq coming "to an end".
He told ACN "This is very serious. We are losing our community. If Christian life in Iraq comes to an end, this will be a hiatus in our history." The head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, which is in full communion with Rome, said the future of Iraq's Christians is under threat: "In 10 years there will perhaps be 50,000 Christians left."
Those still in the areas taken over by ISIS
Mr Chaldo Oganda, Central Committee member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, said "After taking control of Mosul on the 10th of June, ISIS severely limited the water supply to the Northern and Southern Nineveh Plains". From an interview broadcast on the Australian multilingual broadcaster SBS. Via ankawa.com
Church authorities in the town of Karemlesh 28 km north east of Mosul have commenced well drilling projects to alleviate the water crises being experienced by the community. ankawa.com
are being told to pay a tax for being non-Muslims, but many of them cannot afford to pay it. There were harrowing reports in the last week of a man being forced to watch ISIS militants rape his wife and daughter after the family was unable to pay the tax. He later committed suicide.