April 2012

From Gaza to Jerusalem: the story of a young Christian of Gaza

We quote the video from the Franciscan Media Center which is telling us about the Christians of Gaza,

where ATS pro Terra Sancta continues supporting the activities and the needs of the parish.

It is not easy to obtain a permit to reach Israel for those living in Gaza. For Christians in the Gaza Strip, so close to the holy places, touching them often remains a dream, adding frustration to the daily difficulties of living in a small strip of land where they must deal every day with the lack of water and electricity that affects daily life, with the difficulty of finding a job – the unemployment rate exceeds 40 percent – and with that, for Christians, of being a very small minority, less than one percent of the total population now arriving at one million 700 thousand people.

In Jerusalem, we met one of them. George, a young father, was able to reach the Holy City through the mediation of the Coptic patriarchate after many years of ban – he falls within the age group to which Israel has ruled out the possibility of granting a permit. The brother of his wife, a Coptic Christian, asked that his son be baptized in the Holy City, and so, for this occasion, the opportunity was given to George and his family to come here during the Easter holidays:

“In fact this is the first time I can be here to take part in Jerusalem feasts… I’m very happy… I really felt like a Christian, here, between all of these people, in all these celebrations. I’m very happy, really happy… This is the first time, with my daughter too… I’m really, really happy. We’ll tell everybody of these days… I mean, I went near the Holy Sepulchre… and I will certainly bring these experiences to Gaza, I will tell everybody and we will pray for others to be able to come and live all of this, we hope…”.

We talked with him about life in the Gaza Strip, where in the days before Easter, following rocket attacks, the confrontation with Israel intensified with the death of a 12-year old Palestinian child:

“There is always danger when it comes to fight… a real fight between Israelis and Palestinians… it’s true, we feel in danger, but… it’s not in our hands. I mean, we pray for peace in our country, we pray that this conflict ends soon”.

It’s a witness in which lives the hope of being heard, the urgency to make known the desire of Christians in Gaza:

“People have to know we are human beings… that we wish to take part in our Christian celebrations… we are not a threat for security, and the fact I’m here is the proof… and I’m not a threat for anyone…this is our right, and it’s what we dream of, of celebrating here, in Jerusalem… these are the Holy Places, and when it comes to celebrating feasts, Easter in particular…  we should be here, not in Gaza”

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