• PALESTINE \ Jun 22, 2002
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    Greek Orthodox Spokesman: "We support Suicide bombing"
Greek Orthodox Spokesman: Martyrdom by Palestinian men and women is part of intifada, which serves their struggle against Israeli atrocities and cannot be separated from their liberation movement, said a visiting official of the Orthodox Church in occupied Jerusalem and the Holy Land.

Addressing a packed crowd at the Zayed Centre for Coordination and Follow-Up in the capital, Father Dr Attallah Hanna, official spokesman of the Orthodox Church in Jerusalem and the Holy Land, said last night he supported martyrdom by Palestinian men and women to fight for their just rights.

Father Attallah said the basic principle of all Palestinian political parties is the continuation of intifada against Israeli atrocities. Therefore, he said, the Church fully supports the uprising to achieve the objectives of freedom from Israel.

Giving his full support to martyrdom, the spokesman of the Orthodox Church in the Holy Land said: "As you know, political parties in Palestine agree to the continuation of the intifada, which includes different approaches of struggle.

"Some freedom fighters adopt martyrdom or suicide bombing, while others opt for other measures. But all these struggles serve the continued intifada for freedom. Therefore, we support all these causes."

He said Palestinian people should be steadfast in their struggle to be heard by the world community.

The veteran prelate said Palestinian people have been forced to adopt martyrdom by Israeli aggressors.

"It is the Israeli Zionist regime that is committing genocide in Palestine by killing innocent women and children. Palestinian people have the right to defend themselves from the Israeli barbarism and atrocities," Father Attallah said.

"We are part of the intifada, so you don't expect us to keep distance and watch. We are in the struggle, whether it's martyrdom or any other means, we are part of it," he said.

Referring to the Christian community in Palestine, he said it was the Israeli conspiracy to show the world that it was a Muslim struggle and Christians and other community members had nothing to do with it.

"Let me make it clear that Muslims and Christians are one and cannot be separated from the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. We are Palestinians and Arabs," he said.

The Orthodox Church official further said Palestinian Christians have suffered under Israeli Zionist rule as much as Muslims. He said Israeli troops have been committing genocide against Palestinian Christians since 1948.

He said an Orthodox Church has been occupied by Israeli settlers for more than 15 years, which itself shows how Palestinian Christians are suffering under Israeli occupation.

"We are one people. Whether Muslims or Christians, we are Palestinians and Arabs and we will continue our struggle till we achieve freedom," he assured the Church supporters.

Referring to the number of Christians in Palestine, he said the number had decreased due to forceful migration by Israeli troops since the occupation of Arab lands.

"The current two per cent Christians in Palestine are an integral part of our Muslim brothers. They are as loyal to the struggle as they are. There have been pioneering leaders in the struggle for the freedom among Christians in Palestine," he said.

"Our main aim is liberation of the occupied land with Jerusalem as the Capital city of an independent Palestine. All the Arabs are Palestinians, whether Muslims or Christians," Father Attallah said.

He said Israel, with its Western allies, portrays Palestinian issue as a conflict between Jews and Muslims. "Let me tell the world that it is not the issue. The conflict is between the truth and Israeli lies. If it was a religious conflict, the Christians would not have come to the picture. Christians are part and parcel of the Palestinian struggle for the freedom," he said.