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Ohio Catholic priest released unhurt but shaken

Ohio Catholic priest released unhurt but shaken

In an as yet unexplained incident, at approximately 7:00 A.M. on Sunday, July 24, a member of the Michigan Peace Team (MPT), 75-year- old American citizen, Father Harry Bury, was taken from the MPT Rafah apartment at gunpoint by a group of four men wearing military fatigues. Fr. Harry was blindfolded, put in a vehicle and driven to an undisclosed location where he was questioned about his affiliations and later released unharmed. The entire incident lasted less than two hours.

Fr. Harry is a retired priest from the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis in Minnesota. He currently teaches at Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio. Fr. Harry is part of a 4-person Michigan Peace Team (MPT) delegation of clergy visiting communities in the Occupied Gaza Strip to witness the on-the-ground realities of life under military occupation.

After the incident, the MPT delegation was prevented from leaving the area by an Israeli military closure of the Abu Holi Checkpoint, which divides northern from southern Gaza. One day later, on Monday July 25 the four priests waited all day at the Abu Holi Checkpoint and were only allowed by Israeli soldiers to cross well after dark.

About the incident, Fr. Harry reports: "The people that abducted me appeared nervous and seemed to be acting in desperation. They were kind and kept telling me not to worry and that they didn't want to harm me. The men expressed their anger with Israel for her occupation polices, America for her support of the occupation, and the Palestinian Authority for its inability to do anything to help the people. They reported that their friends were being killed and that they had their homes demolished by the Israeli military, and found no one to help them."

'The homes of the settlers are being demolished, but Israel is building new homes for them' said one of the gunmen. When they released me, they gave me back my mobile phone and my wallet, without taking any of the nearly $1000 that I had in my wallet."

At one point in the ordeal, the abductors took a picture of Fr. Harry with a cell phone camera and demanded that he identify himself as being with both the Israeli Army and the CIA. Fr. Harry refused saying, "I won't say that; it isn't true." One of the men then put a gun to Fr. Harry's head and threatened to shoot if Fr. Harry refused to articulate this false confession. Under duress and with little choice, Fr. Harry complied with the gunman's demand.

The purpose or political affiliation of the abductors is not yet known. The Palestinian police are investigating the matter.

ENDS

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