“Mandated by the Vatican, a special delegation of Catholic bishops from Europe and North America pledged to press their governments to act against the “injustice” of “Israel’s West Bank separation barrier”.
Eight high ranking prelates visited Christians in the Gaza Strip, Bethlehem and Beit Jala. The Vatican envoys called the world to address the “tragic situation” faced by Palestinian Christian Arabs of Beit Jala, not because of Islamist threats, but because Arabs were “displaced” by the Israeli barrier, despite the fact that in constructing the security barrier no land has been annexed by Israel, no houses have been demolished, and no-one has been required to leave their home.
In fact, the bigger truth ignored by the Western press and the Churches is that Israel’s barrier helped restore calm and security not just in Israel, but also in Bethlehem. The Church of the Nativity, which terrorists defiled in 2002 to escape from the Israeli army, is now filled again with tourists from around the world.
The bishops also met Daniel Sherman from the anti-Israel organisation B’Tselem. According to the Vatican news agency, the bishops saw evidence of “the abuse taking place in the West Bank where two and a half million Palestinians live under Israeli military occupation”.
Giuseppe Lazzarotto, the Pope’s ambassador in Israel, also declared: “The material walls can be cut only if you tear down the walls of the spirit. That is the essential thing. As long as you do not break down the walls that each of us carries within, you can not shoot down other walls, even if you build new ones, which is even worse”.
This was the most important mission in Israel for the Catholic Bishops since last year, when eight Catholic bishops from Europe and North America, including UK Archbishop Patrick Kelly and French Archbishop Michel Dubost, visited Gaza under Hamas control. “I asked prisoners in the largest prison in Europe (in Evry) to pray for you,” Dubost told Gazans. The inference is clear: The poor Palestinian Arabs are living in a big prison and terrified by Israel.
Today there are 50 fences in the world. Bill Clinton gave the US the wall with Mexico; Spain built fences to keep out Moroccans; India is walling off Kashmir; South and North Korea share the most heavily fortified border in the world; the wealthy Arab sheikhdoms are closing the border with dirt-poor Oman; Cyprus is divided by walls; Belfast is a fenced city of brick, iron and steel barriers, and even the ultra-liberal Netherlands built a fence around the Hook of Holland.
But only Israel’s barriers have been condemned by the Vatican, only Israel’s fences have received round-the-clock coverage on Catholic media and front page stories on L’Osservatore Romano (the Vatican official newspaper) and only Israel’s checkpoints are turned into the meccas of Christian activists.
While foreign fences keep out refugees from neighboring countries, only Israel’s fences and checkpoints have a truly humanitarian reason: to secure the civilian population’s right to life. Only in Israel barbed wire, patrol roads, sand tracking paths, cameras and electronic sensors are used to prevent a restaurant, a shopping mall or a hotel from being turned into carpets of human bodies. Jewish bodies.
None of the other fenced countries have infiltrators with the “holy” purpose of killing people. Tijuana, the symbol of the wall dividing US and Mexico, is not Qalqilya, a Palestinian Arab city 15 kilometers from Tel Aviv, ringed by a fence. It’s Qalqilya, not Tijuana, that has been called the “Paradise Hotel”, because the city was used by suicide terrorists as the jumping off point into Israel. It’s from Qalqilya, not Tijuana, that terrorists can bomb Tel Aviv’s Azrieli towers, which can be seen from the city’s hills.
The fences are Israel’s most vital counterterrorism instrument. Unlike Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin, which is a monument to the defiance of the oppressed, Israel’s checkpoints are a symbol of life. According to the IDF, some 30% of Israel’s counterterrorism arrests took place at the roadblocks.
Israel improved the quality of life at the checkpoints with bathrooms and shaded areas. But Palestinian Arab terrorists then deliberately took advantage of Israel’s consideration. In 2004, a Palestinian woman killed four Israelis at a checkpoint in Gaza by pretending to be disabled. Because of her condition, the soldiers performed their security checks without first using a metal detector. She then detonated her explosive device.
There are 63 crossing points along the barrier known as “gates”, and “obstructions”, such as roadblocks, piles of dirt, iron gates and trenches. Palestinian Arab terrorists found it difficult to obtain weapons when the army encircles every town.
When messengers or operatives get stuck at the checkpoints, they phone. This enables Israeli intelligence to intercept a call and helps to locate the network. In the past, Israeli intelligence learned about an attack while it was already in progress. With the checkpoints, the army shut down movement of terrorists from the PA. That’s why the checkpoint of Kalandia, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, resembles an international border.
The Vatican “ignores” that there have been numerous incidents involving terrorists in the Bethlehem region and a number of suicide bombers have come from the area. That’s why Israel needs to build a fence. That’s why the IDF said that it considers the fence and the hill essential as an “observation point”. The barrier near Cremisan shields the Israeli community of Gilo.
Gilo is a special symbol of the Jewish resistance during the Intifada, when Arab snipers fired at Jews from Beit Jala, mainly populated by Christians. Gilo was turned into another Ireland. Jewish residents began to evacuate. Fear and rage dominated streets and homes. Belatedly, the Israeli government provided barriers and bullet-proof glass to protect the neighborhood’s residents. Gilo was the laboratory where terrorists sought to discover whether they could force Jews into abandoning their homes. They failed. Now the Vatican is reviving this goal by “peaceful” means.
Without checkpoints, fences and roadblocks, Israel would never be able to exist. If the Arabs disarm, there will be “peace”; but if Israel disarms, there will be a new genocide. Is this what the Vatican wants? Another looming Holocaust?
The writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly column for Arutz Sheva. He is the author of the book “A New Shoah”, that researched the personal stories of Israel’s terror victims, published by Encounter. His writing has appeared in publications, such as the Wall Street Journal, Frontpage and Commentary. He is at work on a book about the Vatican and Israel.