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Welby renews appeal for release of Anglican in the occupied West Bank

01 May 2024

Layan Nasir was arrested by Israeli forces last month

Bishop of Southwark

Layan Nasir

Layan Nasir

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has renewed his appeal for the immediate release of Layan Nasir, a 23-year-old Anglican in the occupied West Bank, who was arrested by Israeli forces last month (News, 12 April).

Her family, who were initially unaware of her whereabouts, were later told that Ms Nasir, who attends St Peter’s, Birzeit, was being held in Damon Prison, in Israel. Ms Nasir had previously been held without trial for six months in 2021, along with more than 20 other students at Birzeit University. During her incarceration, she was reportedly mistreated.

A spokesperson for Lambeth Palace said this week that the Archbishop continued both to pray for Ms Nasir and “to appeal for her immediate release or that the reasons for her detention be justified.

“He is deeply concerned to learn that she is now facing administrative detention for four months, without charge and with no due process for her, her family, or lawyers to challenge this. Such processes against what is already a deeply threatened minority are contrary to commitments given over the years.

“This, along with daily harassment of Christian laity and clergy in East Jerusalem, indicates the predicament that many Christians now face in the West Bank and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As the Occupying Power, the State of Israel is obliged by International Law to protect those at risk.”

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has appealed for Israeli and Hamas leaders, who are currently taking part in intense negotiations, to reach a ceasefire agreement.

“For the sake of the people of Gaza, for the sake of the hostages and their families in Israel and for the sake of the region and the wider world, I strongly encourage the Government of Israel and the Hamas leadership to reach now an agreement,” Mr Guterres told journalists in New York on Tuesday.

The situation in Gaza was “worsening by the day”, he said. The UN has said that securing a humanitarian ceasefire remains a “priority” and that “much more humanitarian assistance to Gaza” is needed. UN mine-clearers and weapons experts are working to secure high-risk areas.

Mungo Birch, Chief of the UN Mine Action Programme (UNMAS) in the State of Palestine, said on Monday: “This is the most dangerous period; once people start returning to the north, that’s when most accidents will occur, because they won’t be familiar with where your unexploded ordnance is located.”

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