The First Sunday of Advent this year coincides with the International Day of Solidarity with Palestinian People.

Established by the UN in 1977, this day marks the anniversary of when the UN General Assembly in 1947 issued the plan to partition Palestine into a Jewish state, a Palestinian state, with special status Jerusalem.

Palestinian Christian leaders are asking that we are alert to them in our services for this day. In the Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent we read, “Stay awake.”

If we are awake to Bethlehem as it is today, in the West Bank in the occupied Palestinian territories, we will see that it is surrounded by settlements that are internationally viewed as illegal.

Many live their whole lives in refugee camps. Bethlehem’s residents, like all Palestinians in the West Bank, are constrained in their movements by checkpoints and the separation barrier.

They live with the risk of arrest and imprisonment, not least for non-violent resistance to the occupation. In this harvest season all across the West Bank there have been many attacks by Israeli settlers on farmers, land and trees. Hundreds of Palestinians have had their homes demolished during the pandemic.

This Sunday, we pray for justice for all in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, and for all refugees from that land, and may we be inspired to see ways to act to help to fulfil our prayers.

You can find out more, and access information and prayer resources here.

This article is produced by our Commission for Caritas, Justice & Peace. Read the commission's latest bulletin here.