The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem & The Middle East
The Diocese of Jerusalem
The Rt Revd Riah H Abu El-Assal
11 November 2004
It is with tremendous grief and sadness that I inform you that the Israeli special police force entered St George's Cathedral Close today without permission and took Mordechai Vanunu into custody. Approximately thirty officers, many with guns, entered the cathedral gardens and interrupted breakfast in the Pilgrim Guest House. It was a traumatic event that terrorized many of our tourists, pilgrims, and staff. In the 100 years of the cathedral's history, such an event has never taken place.
Immediately I related how they have come into a sacred place, and that their guns were not welcome. The officers with guns withdrew to outside of the Cathedral Close; however, it came to my attention later, that at least one of the officers still carried a concealed weapon. This was after I had been reassured that all weapons had been removed from the church grounds. It is inconceivable why such force is mandated for procedures like today's.
Mordechai was calm during the search, questioning the need for the interrogation, and they searched his room in his and my presence. They took his papers, laptop, and other possessions into custody. I called his lawyer, and he will meet Mordechai in Petah Tiqva.
This type of entry into a sacred space must not be tolerated by the churches throughout the world, and it must not be accepted by those who respect the rights and dignity of every person. We ask the government of Israel to stop such actions as these, and we call for the respect of sacred places in the Land of the Holy One. It is with extreme sadness and disappointment that I must write this letter, and please continue to pray for us in these difficult times.
Peace of God to all of you,
The Rt Revd Riah Abu El-Assal
Bishop in Jerusalem
His Excellency, President Moshe Katsav
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
Anglican Communion News Service
Episcopal News Service