A Lutheran Holy Land leader who was shocked to encounter school children begging by the road side has pleaded for Palestinians, Israelis and the international community to get more than 700,000 Palestinian students back to school.
Bishop Munib Younan, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land, said in a pastoral letter that the children were staying at home because their schools remained closed due to an international boycott of aid to the Palestinian Authority’s Hamas-led government since it won an election in January.
“As I was driving to Ramallah the other day and stopped at an intersection, a child came up to the car with a towel to try to clean my windshield. I said, ‘What is this?’ He said, ‘Please, for God’s sake, one shekel. I want to eat!’ Other children later started following us when we were walking, ‘Please, a shekel, a shekel.’ I was offended and humiliated to watch Palestinian children turn into beggars.”
The bishop also strongly urged Hamas, which advocates the destruction of the state of Israel, and Fatah, the party led by the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, to stop their infighting and avoid a civil war.
“These children have become the pawns of politics between the Palestinians and the whole Western world and between the infighting of Hamas and Fatah,” Bishop Younan said. “It’s time that we all – Palestinians, Israelis and the international community – stopped making the children the victims of this political stalemate.
He continued, “Now, as a result of the international boycott against the political leaders, our children are becoming beggars and our teenagers are becoming more embittered by injustice and hypocrisy and driven into the arms of the extremists.” Bishop Younan added, “This worries every one of us and should worry the international community.”