Article from the Vatican’s Pontifical Missions news agency Fides
Latin Patriarch delegation visits Gaza: “it is like the cities devastated by World War II”
Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - “We visited the district of Sajaya, where 80 per cent of homes and other buildings have been reduced to heaps of rubble. We saw things which can only be compared with the situation of cities raised to the ground during the Second World War”. With this image William Shomali, patriarchal Vicar of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem of the Latins, summarises impressions recorded in the brief visit on Monday 1st September to the city of Gaza, together with the Administrator general of the Patriarchate, Fr. Imad Twal, and the Chancellor of the Patriarchate, Fr. George Ayoub.
During the few hours spent in Gaza (the Israelis close Eretz check point at 3pm) the patriarchal delegation was able to meet members of the small Christian community there: besides the assistant parish priest and the sisters belonging to three congregations operating in Gaza (Institute of the Incarnate Word, Sisters of the Rosary and Sisters of Mother Teresa) the Catholic Bishop and the two accompanying priests visited Greek-Orthodox Bishop Alexios, who has also remained at his post all through the period of Israeli army incursions.
“The Orthodox Bishop - Bishop Shomali tells Fides – gave us a truly fraternal welcome and he praised the efficient work of Caritas,
"The truce which has begun is a good thing, but it will not help if the conditions in Gaza remain those of a desperate land under siege, where only fear and frustration that feed hatred can grow.
It almost seems that it points at making Gaza a factory of desperate people, designed to easily turn into extremists ready for anything". Full article here.
the Pontifical Mission and Catholic Relief Service for assisting the people during and after weeks of military operations”. The patriarchal delegation also went to see the Anglican Hospital which in the past two months has assisted more than 4,000 injured persons.
The psychological situation described by Bishop Shomali reveals much shadow and little light: “On the one hand – the Patriarchal vicar of Jerusalem explains to Fides – the people are relieved that the ceasefire still holds. Fishermen, with permits to fish inside six miles from the coast, come in every morning laden with catch, and by eight o’clock have sold everything. The possibility to provide food with the work of their own hands, and the prospect of finding more work in the task of rebuilding, help kindle a little hope. Besides - the Palestinian Bishop adds – even the young people there have already seen 3 military campaigns against Gaza and each time the destruction is greater then the time before. It will be years before the city can return to its previous situation. This feeds discouragement, dries up hope for the future. Even in the small Christian community, many dream of moving away”.
The members of the patriarchal delegation did not meet political representatives, but in conversation with Christians and Muslims they sensed growing hostility towards Israel, because- Bishop
Shomali remarks– “war can never sow love”. At the same time
Pope Francis received in private audience on Friday Gaza parish priest Father Jorge Hernandez, during which he expressed his closeness to those who have suffered in the war-ravaged territory.
In the 45 minute meeting, the fellow Argentine told the Holy Father that the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, of which he is a part, opened its parishes and schools in Gaza to receive refugees
whose houses had been destroyed in the recent conflict. Full article here.
consensus regarding Hamas – criticised for its strategy even by the President of the Palestinian National Authorities, Abu Mazen – appears by no means unanimous. The Patriarchal Vicar of
Jerusalem concludes : “there were even some, who with bitter irony, remarked: now Gaza is destroyed, and all we have gained is the chance to eat a little fish”. Original article here.
Within a matter of weeks following Israel's disproportionate attack on Gaza and the outright condemnation of
Church Patriarchs in the region regarding Israel's attack on Gaza H.H. Pope Francis has again received ex Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Vatican. The estimated cost of repairing Israeli
destruction in Gaza is set at $7.8 billion.
Shimon Peres and the Qana Massacre: "On 18 April 1996, when Israel still occupied southern Lebanon, Shimon Peres was Prime Minister. He was in the midst of an election campaign, so he took a decision to do something to change his “dovish” image because doves are not respected in Israel. He launched “Operation Grapes of Wrath” causing 400,000 Lebanese to flee their homes, with almost 800 of them fleeing to a UN base in Qana, South Lebanon.
On 18 April the Israeli army shelled the UN shelter in Qana, killing 102 civilians, mainly women, children and the elderly. Many more were injured." Source.
Dr. Maria Khoury is an Orthodox Christian of Greek - American descent and Palestinian by marriage. Maria lives in the Palestinian West Bank Christian village of Taybeh.
Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,
As I wish you a blessed peaceful holy new ecclesiastical year, I remain stunned at the silence my church has towards the horrific and unspeakable evil Israel continues to carry out. May our Lord have mercy upon those who ignore this injustice. I am just shocked that after Israel attacked schools, hospitals, ambulances, mosques, media offices, the power plant, UN buildings and staff that Israel continues to enjoy blind support from America. I guess it is pretty much like the late Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon once said: "...I want to tell you something very clear. Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it." So I assume everyone will break out their checkbooks since this last war on Gaza cost Israel over 2 billion dollars.
How sad, today, Israel also announced the biggest land grab in twenty years; 1,000 acres of land will be confiscated in the Bethlehem area for more illegal Israeli settlements.
May we continue to pray for peace and justice. May we forgive the barbaric and uncivilized killings of Christians in the region which all the latest news point the finger at
the United Stated and Israel for funding. I guess the more fanatic Muslims the Middle East has makes some people happy. It just simply scares me...As we have gone way back before the
times of Constantine the Great, I do pray for steadfast witness to the True Light of Christ. May Love always conquer hate. May inner peace exist in our heart as the new Church
year reminds us to focus on saving our soul.
With sincere good wishes on this holy day,
Original text here.