Palestinians on Sunday joined global prayers for Nelson Mandela, remembering the South African leader and anti-apartheid icon’s staunch support for their struggle to end the Israeli occupation.
In the West Bank city of Ramallah, senior Palestine Liberation Organisation officials joined about 200 members of the public at a mass in the Holy Family Roman Catholic church celebrated by former Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah.
The church was decorated with a photograph of Mandela and another showing him with the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
“The loss of Nelson Mandela is deeply felt not only in South Africa, but in Palestine as well and throughout the world,” PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi was quoted by the organisation as saying after the service.
“To him Palestine was not a question of solidarity or advocacy, but was one that he internalised and participated in as one of us,” she said, calling Mandela an “embodiment of the conscience of the world.”
In Bethlehem, an estimated 250-300 people attended mass at Saint Catherine’s Catholic Church, part of the Church of the Nativity complex marking the traditional site of Jesus Christ’s birth.
A photograph of Mandela was displayed in front of the altar.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas’s Christian affairs advisor Ziad al-Bandak took part, along with Bethlehem’s mayor.
The PLO said that services were also held elsewhere in the occupied West Bank.