November 2010

Gaza – support to the Christians

A small minority of about 2,500 Christians lives in the Gaza strip among a total population of 1.5 million. The population and specifically the children suffer from extreme hardship by the ongoing conflict between Palestine and Israel in Gaza, the coming to power of Hamas and the operation “Cast Lead” that saw innumerable casualties, over 1,300 fatalities and sheer unfathomable destruction in early 2009, as well as the Israeli blockade in general in Gaza.

The Catholic parish in Gaza

The Catholic parish in Gaza counts just under 250 members, at present. Despite an amicable and quite vivid congressional live, the atmosphere is dampened: Arab Christians face a difficult situation in the Muslim environment in Gaza, though they share the same fate as their Palestinian brethren: Israeli occupation and respectively the blockade of Gaza. However being Christians, they aren’t part of the governing Muslim majority and thus are often viewed as collaborators of the West. The economy has long collapsed, resulting in soaring unemployment and poverty. There are serious shortages in staples, medical supplies and no or little access to clean water.

The latest war caused serious trauma to the children of Gaza and its population. The fears, the mourning of the dead, the causalities, the material damage and ruins are still omnipresent in Gaza. Being caged in an area of roughly 360skm, the seemingly hopeless political situation, false promises and an average age of under 20 add to the already grave problems, resulting in passivity or worth: aggression and extremism in Gaza.

Everyday live is anything but easy in Gaza, especially with a better future being nowhere in sight, let alone a solution to the conflict of Gaza. Particularly minorities, families and children suffer the most under these conditions. Jorge Hernández, Argentinean national and priest of the Catholic parish in Gaza is responsible for the two Catholic schools in Gaza. He reports:

“Everyday we face the negative effects of a war torn society; children with behavioral disorders. For instance one student always pulls his hoody over the head, even if its not cold. For him it’s a little shelter, were he can hide from everyday horrors. All the boys play with toy guns. While every Argentinean boy dreams of getting his own football, here, in Gaza it’s a toy rifle – and the bigger, the better. This is the result of children growing up in an environment of destruction and violence. They want to feel strong. Many children have witnessed unfathomable horrors; family backgrounds are often complicated, to say the least.[…] The life of families often resembles a dead faint; they have no way of changing the situation. “deliberate resignation” has become a common phenomena.”

Father Hernández does everything in his power to support his parish and offer guidance to Christian children in Gaza. With the help of the Little Sisters of Jesus, the Rosary Sisters and the Sisters of Mother Therese the parish is able to offer youth activities. About 100 adolescences come to the parish every Wednesday, Saturdays 150 younger children meet here. Together they pray, sing, study the catechism, and get to play football… Part of the activities involves acting, too. In the words of Father Hernández “this enables the children to somehow express their feeling”. In Gaza, where leisure activities for children and adolescence are usually scarce, the Catholic parish “Holy Family” is a small place for peace, friendship, mutual help and repose. Please help support the Christian minority in Gaza with your donation, today!

***

Help support the Holy Places. Maintain the Christian Community in the Holy Land:

https://www.proterrasancta.org/en/help/

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