During this blessed and holy week the bombs can’t seem to leave us alone. When we think things can get better and have a glimpse of hope, the bombing gets intense. By Dr. Maria C. Khoury During this blessed and holy week the bombs can’t seem to leave us alone. When we think things can get better and have a glimpse of hope, the bombing gets intense. We can now hear bombs during school, after school and at home. As school children throughout Palestine keep their faith and remain optimistic to have their independence and freedom, only God knows what the future holds for us in the Holy Land. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) I woke up to a beautiful sunny school day and even forgot I was in a war zone as I headed for a field visit to a very small elementary school fifteen minutes northwest of Ramallah, the Ein Arik Latin Patriarchate School. Little did I know that the Israeli army would continue to bomb throughout the whole school day in the city of Betunia right next to this lovely little school that sits on a very high hill in Ein Arik with a population of less than a thousand people. The school in this very poor village with no water lines or telephones was established in l858 and is next to the Latin Church where a community of Italians led by Fr. Joseph is responsible for the maintenance and the religious life. The small school is in desperate need of facilities to improve the quality of education for the 150 students that attend classes from preschool to grade six mixed in an ideal Christian-Muslim community. As I approached the school, I ignored the sound of bombs so I can deny my own fear. But, I thought possibly it was not a normal day because the preschool children that live in Betunia and attend the Ain Arik school were being evacuated to go home as early as possible since the Israelis were bombing their neighborhood. As if it is safer to be at home these days, with all of the residential neighborhoods bombed, I do not believe there is a safe place in Palestine. But in any case, these children did belong with their parents. The problem with these bombings is that people get so scared that roamers spread quickly. Many staff members were telling me to leave immediately because Ramallah might also be bombed. I am always scared inside, but I never show my fear to others so that I don’t make them panic. Being old and stubborn, I thought I should continue my regular schedule. While we were trying to have an English lesson at our school, 670 girls were stuck inside the Betunia Secondary Government Girls School and could not get out because it was dangerous to walk home while the Israeli army surrounded their school and bombed the neighborhood with heavy military tanks. In addition, 45 nursery school children, six months to five years of age, were also stuck inside their school building until 4:30 p.m. when the shooting stopped. Representatives from the Red Crescent and the International Red Cross Organization tried to negotiate with the Israelis to stop the shooting and get these children home but all efforts failed. The bombs from the tanks were so loud that many young children went into shock just from the powerful sound. These were Palestinian children terrorized to death not Israelis so you did not hear about them in your news headlines for April 9, 2001. However, please do remember that Israel is called a “democracy.” It is not surprising that when the English teacher, Ms. Maysoon Azar asked the children to make up sentences using the words “anywhere” and “nowhere,” the children can only come up with: “We can not play anywhere during the bombing.” During the English class all sample sentences had to do with “shooting,” “bombs,” etc. I worry when I hear these bombs go off because not only can I not make up English sentences, but my heart rate beats faster, my adrenaline begins to flow and I tremble so much I can not think straight let alone evaluate an English lesson. The questions that keep going through my mind: How do these children concentrate? How do these teachers even teach? What kind of quality education can take place when you hear bombs going off during your math and English lessons? Does the world know what is happening to these poor Palestinian children? I cannot bare the ride home after school anymore. I see first hand on a daily basis the humiliation imposed on Palestinian young men as they are pulled over by the Israeli soldiers and delayed and harassed as they return from work or school. I can’t stand being stuck at a checkpoint and watching the Israeli soldiers sitting on top of military tanks with bullet proof vests and heavy military gear shooting nine year olds behind trash cans hurling small stones as a symbol of resistance to this brutal military occupation. I cannot stand the feeling that day to day we are suffering to maintain a Christian presence in the land of our Savior. During this Holy Week as we anticipate our Lord’s Resurrection may Christ who transcended death to rise on the third day help bring peace to all in this Holy Land. May this miraculous event that has changed humanity help preserve our roots and give us the wisdom to live as Christians, Muslims and Jews in this sacred land.