the soldiers took Layan, not before blindfolding and handcuffing her, placing her under administrative detention Photo: Asia News

Israel continues to violate human rights of Christians just because they are Palestinians

Layan Nasir, a 23-year-old native of Birzeit, is the only Christian woman under «administrative detention». She was taken, blindfolded and handcuffed, overnight by a military patrol without an arrest warrant or charges against her. The Bethlehem Lutheran leader: Israel enjoys «impunity» and “feels entitled to destroy the lives of millions of people.”

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Darío Salvi

(ZENIT News – Asia News / Jerusalem, 04.22.2024).- Layan Nasir, a young Palestinian Christian woman, was arrested last week. “There are no reasons and no basis [for her arrest] other than the fact that we live under a colonial-settler occupation that has enjoyed impunity for so long and feels entitled to destroy the lives of millions,” said Rev Munther Isaac speaking to AsiaNews.

For the clergyman, who serves as pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Bethlehem, “Layan has been placed under ‘administrative detention’, just like close to 4000 other Palestinians. This is the term the Israelis use to justify detention of people” when they “have no charges against them.”

At night on 6 April in Birzeit, a Palestinian town, a patrol of about 15 Israeli soldiers showed up at her family’s home looking for the 23-year-old woman, without an arrest warrant or charge against her.

As the family told The Guardian newspaper, which reported the arrest, Israeli soldiers forced their way into the family home and pointed guns at Layan’s mother, Lulu Aranki, and her father, Sami, a Catholic-Anglican couple.

After searching for several minutes, the soldiers took Layan, not before blindfolding and handcuffing her, placing her under administrative detention, the only Christian woman in this situation.

For Rev Isaac, “Layan’s detention serves as a reminder of our life as Christians under Israeli occupation. Palestinian Christians are not just an integral part of the Palestinian people but have suffered just as the rest of the people.”

The young woman was arrested as a «preventive» measure but her family has not been notified why.

Her story, which risked going unnoticed like many others involving Palestinians, became front-page news after the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, expressed deep concern about her fate and called for her release on X (formerly Twitter).

“We should put all the pressure possible,” said the Lutheran clergyman, “not just to free her, but to free all our people from the occupation jails, to end the occupation and to achieve justice for everyone.”

Rev Isaac serves as pastor at the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem and the Lutheran Church in Beit Sahour. He teaches at Bethlehem Bible College and is the director of the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference.

Now in its seventh year, the conference this year will be held between 21 and 26 May, centred on “Do Justice, Love Mercy: Christian Witness in Contexts of Oppression.»

“Our situation as Christians in Palestine is critical as we are at the lowest of our points since 1948, but we are not losing hope and most importantly. We believe in the justice of our cause.

“We see how our lands are stolen and our people attacked. Israel enjoys impunity and the western world seems not to care much about us. But we also know that our cause is just.

“This is the key. We will continue to exist and to spread our message not just because it is a duty as Palestinians but also because it is our duty as Christians.

Administrative detention allows Israel to hold a suspect for long periods without charges or trial. This measure, once enforced only to Palestinians, now applies to Israelis as well, although critics are sceptical about how it is applied.

A source of controversy and protests because it violates human rights, the measure is usually used when the authorities have information linking a suspect to a crime, but do not have enough evidence to support their claim in a court of law.

Detentions can be unilaterally renewed by a military court every six months and prisoners can remain in prison for years.

While some Palestinians have been detained without known charges, the most common reasons for administrative detention range from the promotion of violence online to (alleged) terrorist activities.

Layan is one of thousands of Palestinians held without charge, at least 85 are women, but she is the only one who is Christian.

Critics, activists, and human rights NGOs note that the law is part of the apartheid system enforced by the Jewish state against Palestinians.

“Israel routinely uses administrative detention,” says Btselem, an Israeli human rights NGO, “and has, over the years, placed thousands of Palestinians behind bars for periods ranging from several months to several years, without charging them, without telling them what they are accused of, and without disclosing the alleged evidence to them or to their lawyers.”

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