Palestine (MNN) — As protests continue over the death of George Floyd in the United States, Palestinians continue to suffer police brutality and racism.
Tuesday, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian man at a checkpoint in the West Bank. The Israeli police said the man tried to run over an officer with his car. But many doubt the story, as the man’s sister was getting married that very night.
Munther Isaac of Bethlehem Bible College says, “The scary thing is I just passed this checkpoint two hours prior to that. And one can’t help but think, this could be my fate if I don’t see the signal of the police or the soldiers at the checkpoint. If I miss something. It’s so scary. Unfortunately, it’s common. No one is held accountable. No one’s punished. It’s always all blamed on the Palestinians. That’s just another day in occupied territories.”
Eyad Hallaq’s death
This isn’t an uncommon occurrence in Palestine either. Six days after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, a disabled Palestinian man, Eyad Hallaq, was gunned down by Israeli police. Isaac says, “It was so tragic because he had special needs. There was no way he would pick up the calls of the Israeli soldiers. Then they just shoot and kill.”
Palestinians joined in the international protests, asking for justice for Floyd and Hallaq. Paintings of both appeared on signs and the Israeli West Bank barrier.
In the United States, black people often feel as though their lives don’t matter to society, as though they are expendable. Isaac says Palestinians feel the same way. “I know they count to God, that’s what I always say in my sermons. But it seems that to the Israeli soldiers they don’t count.”
Isaac says Palestinians don’t have the same rights as Israelis in the West Bank, and laws apply to the two groups differently. Palestinians feel solidarity with the African American community in this regard.
The kingdom of Christ
How can the church respond? Isaac says, “We are mandated by God to implement His ideas, the ideals of the kingdom of God, in every community, in every society, and in every land. I think that’s part of the calling of the Church, an integral part.”
The goal, Isaac says, isn’t to drive the oppressors out of the land. It is for all people to live together in love, harmony, and justice. “For us as theologians and Christian leaders, we’ve always found inspiration in the non-violent approach of Dr. Martin Luther King.”
The kingdom of God looks like people from every country and ethnicity coming together to serve Jesus Christ. Pray this will truly be the case in Palestine and the United States.
The header image shows a painting of George Floyd on the Israeli West Bank barrier. (photo courtesy of Bethlehem Bible College)