The Israeli military authorities extend Christmas greetings to the Custos | Custodia Terrae Sanctae

The Israeli military authorities extend Christmas greetings to the Custos

Jerusalem, 21st December 2011

As is now tradition, on the morning of 21st December, a
delegation of the Israeli military forces met the Custos, Brother Pierbattista Pizzaballa, to extend their greetings for Christmas. The brief meeting was held in the premises of the Custody’s Curia, at St. Saviour’s Convent in Jerusalem. Brother Artemio Vitores, the Custodial Vicar, and Brother Ibrahim Faltas, the current Bursar of the Custody and responsible for relations with the Israeli and Palestinian authorities were also present. The members of the Israeli police force included Dr. Moshe Bareket, Commandant of the David Police sub-district of Jaffa gate in Jerusalem, the Chief Superintendants Avi Bitton, Erez Tavour and Yaniv Shlomo and Sergeant-Major Johnny Kassabri, the officer responsible for relations with the Christian communities.

In an open and cordial climate, and before a small and dainty Nativity scene on the table in the centre of the room, the discussion focused on the influx of pilgrims expected at the Holy Places for these holidays and the commitment in terms of organization, coordination and security that the Christmas festivities require so that everything goes without a hitch. The Israeli military chiefs ensured their complete collaboration so that the security measures adopted are efficient and, at the same time, allow the Christian population and pilgrims to get through the checkpoints between Bethlehem and Jerusalem as quickly and easily as possible.

A simple moment of conviviality was followed by the exchange of greetings, with the guests being offered a small gift by the Franciscan Custody. These are significant opportunities, whilst being simple, to increase gestures of reciprocal understanding and to ripen the path for collaboration in a land which is still toiling to find the right balances, but that the spirit of Christmas contributes to making a little more sensitive. A small and ordinary event, the birth of a child, conceals the greatness of the perfect gift.

By Caterina Foppa Pedretti
Photos by Alice Caputo