Church group calls on Minister Freeland to protect Palestinian children facing settler/IDF violence and collusion in Hebron


These two Palestinian children died in a housefire in Hebron, in the Occupied West Bank after Israeli military prevented a Palestinian fire truck from crossing a checkpoint. A Canadian church group has written to the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister demanding that she act, and asking for a meeting. Read more…

The Co-Chair of the United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel (UNJPPI) has written to Minister Chrystia Freeland demanding that Canada take a more active role in protecting unarmed Palestinian civilians, including women and children, facing settler violence in the Palestinian City of Hebron.

steve berube

Reverend Steve Berube is a team minister at St. Paul’s United Church in Riverview, NB, Canada. He served as a human rights observer in Bethlehem while on sabbatical in the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI) of the World Council of Churches. He is also co-chair of UNJPPI

“I am writing to urge that the Canadian government demand the government of Israel investigate the actions of the Israeli military on March 5th in blocking emergency fire and rescue equipment from responding to a house fire in the Al-Salaymeh neighbourhood of Hebron’s Old City,” wrote Reverend Steve Berube on March 7th.

“This action resulted in 18 month old Malik Al-Rajabi and her 4 year old brother Wael Al-Rajabi being burned to death.”  he continued.

Berube asked for a meeting with the minister.

This is the second time in a month that Reverend Berube has written Minister Freeland about the deteriorating situation in Hebron.

On February 2nd, he had written her raising concerns about the Netanyahu government’s decision to ban international observers from Hebron.

I am writing to you to express my grave concern with respect to the Israeli government decision to force the Temporary International Presence in Hebron out of occupied Hebron and to urge you to take action to force Israel to reverse this decision.”


International observers from TIPH warily eye Israeli soldiers in Hebron. The soldiers are there to protect the settlers, but when settlers attack Palestinian children or merchants, protecting them is not part of the soldier’s responsibility.

The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was created in 1994 to protect Palestinian civilians from attacks by rabid Israeli settlers. On January 28th, the Israeli government cancelled TIPH permit to operate in Hebron, leaving Palestinian children open to attack without any international protection or even witnesses.

Reverend Berube has quite a bit of experience, having been an observer in the West Bank as part of a similar – the Ecumenical Accompanied Program in Palestine and Israel. (EAPPI). EAPPI is supported by a consortium of Canadian churches, including the United Church of Canada.

The situation in (Hebron) has deteriorated from five years ago,” wrote Berube recently. “Vendors in the market have seen a marked decrease in business as settlers continue to disrupt and harass them by throwing human excrement and household garbage from apartments above down on the market stalls.”

As of March 15, Reverend Berube is still waiting for an answer from the minister for either letter. Any CTIP readers who are concerned about Canada’s lack of response to increasing Israel settler violence against Palestinian civilians in the West Bank could forward Berube’s letter (or this blog post) to their own MP.


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  1. Is there any way for internationals to go to Hebron now, and act as observers?

    1. Hey Bessa,
      I don’t know the answer to that question. I know that lots of groups go there to ‘visit’, but to stay for several months?? Perhaps check with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) or with Ecumenical Accompaniement in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

    2. Interference with the police and or military or acts considered spying or sabotage can result in arrest, detention, fines, deportation and more… just like any other country. Try interfering with police making an arrest in Mexico, Russia, China, France. See where that gets you.

      1. Hey Patrick, I don’t disagree with your statement, but am confused about why you are making it.

        In this case it was the Israeli military interfering with Palestinian fire authorities trying to protect civilians in territory that the UN Security Council (and Canada) recognize as Occupied Palestinian territory,

        What is the link between this, and your statement?

  2. Writing to Minister Freeland seems to be a waste of time. She shows no sign of caring about the people of Palestine. It would be better to bypass her and send letters to newspapers,

    1. Hey David, I agree with you that if you ONLY write to Minister Freeland, that is pretty well a waste of time.

      But if you send copies to your friends, congregants, local MPs and newspapers that could be useful. Freeland, like any other politician will be more influenced by how many people are concerned over this issue than the eloquence of the letter itself. In fact, that is the reason I put the Reverend’s letter in the blog post – so others would be aware of the issue.

    1. Hey Arnon, I agree that the deliberate death of any baby – whether Jewish or non Jewish – is a tragedy, whether or not the events took place as the article you referred to or not. In one case, apparently a single Palestinian sniper, in the other an act of apparently deliberate policy by the Israeli military. Every Jewish life is valuable. So is every Palestinian life.

      I do wonder about your apparent desire to defend the Jewish residents of Hebron. Do you live in Canadad? Have you visited Hebron recently? The settlers might not ALL be rabid, but most Canadians would find their attitudes and comportment rather offensive. In fact, most of the Canadian Jews I know find the Hebron settlers to be a major embarrassment.

    2. Arnon,

      In the article that you cited, I found that the perpetrator of that horrible crime was captured sentenced to three life sentences. The extra two life sentences strike me a futile attempt at revenge and closure.

      However, there was no closure. The same article tells us that “The child’s father, Yitzchak Pass, later joined the Bat Ayin Underground terrorist group which planned to blow up a Palestinian girls’ school in East Jerusalem and was eventually arrested and convicted for possession of 10 pounds of explosive. He served a two-year prison sentence.[14]”. Had he succeeded in destroying the Palestinian school many more innocent lives would have been lost. In this case, the sentence did not even keep a revenge driven potential murderer off the streets.

      The contrast between the sentences handed out to Palestinians by Israeli Military Courts and the treatment of Jews who turn to violence is clear.

      The real message of these two stories is to confirm Martin Luther King’s position that, “The old law of an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind.” Every human life deserves equal protection. Blocking the Palestinian Fire Department shows that we haven’t learned that simple lesson.

  3. Freeland is extremely busy promoting the rule of law where convenient and not easily distracted by facts.

    1. The rule of which law? When it comes to situations like this one, everyone gets to pick the law they like best.

  4. The Govt Foreign Minister Freeland and Canadian ambassador to Israel Deborah Lyons about making any balanced comments in Israel and Palestinian, condemning only violence directed against Israeli Jews including settlers and not once against Palestinians since PM Trudeau expressed reservations about the death of children along Gaza fence for which Bnai brith ordered him to apologize. They have done little in word and deed to advance Canada’s policy of a 2 state soln for Israel and Palestine. No comments either on the unfettered racism and rejection of all Palestinian rights in the current Israeli election. Abstaining on the Unhrc resolution package on Israel and not recognizing Israel’s claim to the Golan represent a small level of balanced policy that raises hope of Canada’s election to the UNSC where it can be effective.

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