Jerusalem Jerusalem

Bishop of Chelmsford’s Visit to Israel and Palestine

13 May 2024

Last week, Bishop Guli visited Israel and Palestine to show solidarity with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and local Christians, to listen and understand more about the conflict and its impact on the Diocese and local communities and to take greetings from the Diocese of Chelmsford, assuring Archbishop Hosam and others of our prayers and support.


Bishop Guli with Archbishop Hasam

Monday 6 May

Meeting with Archbishop Hosam

Home to about 7,000 Anglicans, worshipping in 28 congregations across five separate countries or territories: Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria and Israel, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem is led by the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem, the Most Reverend Hosam E Naoum. The Diocese oversees more than thirty institutions including hospitals, schools, clinics and rehabilitation centres. In a meeting with Archbishop Hosam, Bishop Guli learned about the work of the diocese and its churches as well as the challenges they currently face as worshipping communities and in their service to the people of the region, including at the Anglican Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza, the only functioning hospital in the north of Gaza. Bishop Guli also took the opportunity to speak with Archbishop Hosam about the situation of Anglicans in Iran. The Diocese of Iran is part of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East and, currently without its own bishop, comes under the care of the Archbishop.

Bishop Guli visits the Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre

Tuesday 7 May, The Jerusalem Princess Basma Centre

Located on the Mount of Olives and operating under the umbrella of the Anglican Episcopal Church in Jerusalem, the Princess Basma Centre works in the fields of inclusive education, health, and disability. As part of its work, the centre provides treatment for Palestinian children with disabilities from the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem and runs an inclusive school serving children with disabilities who study side-by-side with children without disabilities. The school has an average of 460 students, one-third of whom are children with disabilities. During her visit, Bishop Guli met with the General Director of the Centre, Mrs Violette Mubarak and heard about some of the challenges the centre currently faces, including the consequences of being caught between the Israeli Government and Palestinian Authority which has led to staff not being paid in full for many months.

Bishop Guli visits St George's School for Boys

St George's School for Boys

St George’s School for Boys is a mixed school of 756 students, 18% of whom are girls. In her meeting with Head Teacher, Mr Richard Zananiri, Bishop Guli heard about the challenges faced by teachers who live in the West Bank and require permits to travel, which has been more restrictive since 7 October. The school is also under significant pressure from the Israeli Government to align with the Israeli curriculum at the expense of the Palestinian one. The school is technically under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority but 55%-60% of its funding comes from the Israeli Government.

Bishop Guli with British Consul General Diane Corner

Meeting with British Consul General Diane Corner

During her visit, Bishop Guli met with Diane Corner, British Consul General, to hear about the UK Government’s work in the region and the efforts to ensure that humanitarian aid is reaching those who need it in Gaza. Bishop Guli also took the opportunity to raise the case of Layan Nasir who is being held in administrative detention (see below).

Bishop Guli at St Andrew's Ramallah

Wednesday 8 May, St Andrew's Church Ramallah, West Bank

Bishop Guli met with Fr Fadi Diab from St Andrew’s Church Ramallah, who challenged the Church in the West to speak out more strongly for a ceasefire and justice for Palestinians. He shared something of the sense of abandonment felt by him and his community and spoke of the spiritual crisis being experienced by many. Fr Fadi also spoke about the devastating economic impact of the war on local communities and how the church, supported by agencies such as Tearfund, is now issuing food stamps to families in need.

Bishop Guli with Lulu Nassir

Meeting with Lulu Nasir, mother of Layan Nasir

Fr Fadi Diab joined Bishop Guli and Richard Sewell, Dean of St. George’s College Jerusalem, in her meeting with Lulu Nasir, the mother of Layan Nasir, a young 24 year old Palestinian Christian woman who is held with thousands of others in Administrative Detention in Israeli prisons. Bishop Guli heard how 15 armed guards entered the family home at 4 am in the morning, blindfolded and handcuffed Layan before leading her away. No charges have been brought against Layan and no family members have been allowed to visit her. In the month since she was arrested, her lawyer has only been allowed to visit her once.

Bishop Guli meets Gerard Horton of Military Court Watch

Meeting with Gerard Horton of Military Court Watch

In a meeting with Gerard Horton of Military Court Watch (MCW), Bishop Guli learned how children as young as 12 years can be arrested and prosecuted in military courts. Approximately 500 – 1000 are detained each year. 98% of the children live within close proximity of Israeli settlements and are convicted for crimes such as throwing rocks, often with little or no evidence. Prisons are currently over crowded and conditions are very poor.

Established in 2013, MCW’s work is guided by the basic principle that children detained by the Israeli military authorities are entitled to all the rights and protections guaranteed under international law.

MCW advocates, and where appropriate, litigates, trying to ensure that all children who come in contact with the military legal system are treated with equality and in accordance with the law.

Bishop Guli with members of the Armenian Orthodox community

Meeting with members of the Armenian Orthodox Community in the Old City, Jerusalem

Bishop Guli met with two young members of the Armenian community who are fighting a case to prevent a large part of the Armenian Quarter being sold to an Israeli company. The deal was originally signed by the Patriarch but the community are making a case that he did not have the authority to do so. These two men have galvanised the community to make a peaceful protest and bring a legal case. They keep a permanent presence in the Quarter and have dealt with a number of violent intrusions. 

Bishop Guli during a meeting in Jerusalem

Wednesday 8 May - Thursday 9 May

Meetings with Michael Murmur (Rabbis for Human Rights), Sarah Burnstein (Rossling Centre for Interreligious Education) and Yuli Novak (B'Tselem)

Rabbis for Human Rights, the Rossling Centre for Interreligious Education and B’Tselem are Israeli Jews working for human rights, justice and a more peaceful future. They spoke with Bishop Guli about the devastating impact the 7 October attacks and the response to them have had on their work and organisations at a time when they are most needed. They explained how the space for good interreligious dialogue and working is becoming smaller as each community deals with the trauma of recent experiences.

Church Times Interview

Bishop Guli has reflected on her visit to Israel and Palestine in an interview with the Church Times which can be listened to below and is covered in an article on the Church Times website and in print.


Bishop's Lent Appeal graphic

Bishop's Lent Appeal - raising funds for the Diocese of Jerusalem's Healthcare Ministry

This year, the Bishop of Chelmsford’s Lent Appeal has been raising funds for the Diocese of Jerusalem’s Healthcare Ministry. Donations will remain open until 1 July.

To find out more and donate, please click here.