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ICC Note:

Two hearings were recently held in Bethlehem regarding the case involving the nuns of St. Mary’s Coptic Convent. The case involves two separate incidents where the nuns were attacked by a family who had illegally taken up residence in parts of the convent. It is believed that this family has close connections to the Palestinian Authority, resulting in the obstruction of due process. Christian leaders, particularly those belonging to Catholic and Orthodox traditions, are especially vulnerable to attacks in the Middle East because their faith is very visible to society. For those living in Palestine, the risk is even greater.  


01/26/2018 Palestine (MEC) –   Christians in Palestine request prayer for the ongoing court case regarding the nuns of St Mary’s Coptic Convent, Bethlehem, following two hearings on 22 January.

The Mahatna family has illegally taken up residence in part of the convent buildings and members of the family have damaged the property and even attacked the resident nuns, sisters Maria and Esther. The court procedures are related to two separate incidents on 30 April 2017, when a female member of the family, Rania, broke into the convent storeroom and physically assaulted Sister Maria as well as causing damage. While the nuns were on the way to the police station to file a complaint, Rania’s brother, Rami, and his friend stopped the nuns’ car and attacked it with an iron bar, unaware of the presence of a police officer inside the car.

At the first hearing on 22 January, regarding Rania’s assault, Sister Maria presented medical reports on the injuries she had received. The judge was sympathetic and a final hearing is scheduled for 23 March.

The second hearing on 22 January, concerned Rami’s attack on the car, while the nuns, the police officer and two others were inside, and the presiding judge was noticeably less sympathetic. According to Sister Maria, the police officer who had been in the car failed to give a true account of what happened. It is believed that the Mahatna family have close links to influential members of the Palestinian Authority and that, as a result, the course of justice is being obstructed. The lawyer representing the nuns has asked for the damage to the car to be examined by an expert and presented as evidence. The next hearing is scheduled for 9 April.

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