For about three months now, Christians in Gaza have been living in the dark. “Until recently, we had electricity for eight hours, then only for six hours a day, then for four … Today we only have electricity for two and a half hours in a whole day!” Fr. Mario Da Silva, Parish Priest of the Latin Church of the Holy Family in Gaza, is really very worried. He has been living here for five years; following the small Latin community of the Strip. He tells us that since he has arrived, the situation has worsened. “Overall, everything is missing”, he says, “and the little there is, costs twice or triple compared to when I arrived … They continue to cut in the supply of goods, they have reduced the supply of gas and oil by 30%. For this reason, the use of power generators to overcome the lack of electricity has become an overly expensive alternative.”
1.8 million People live in Gaza. It is one of the Countries with the world’s largest population density (5,046 inhabitants per square kilometer). People are exhausted by years of political instability, by the closure of the borders and the past wars. The economic stalemate and the many years of violence have had a devastating effect on people and families. For this reason the society is unstable and constantly deteriorating.
Christians in Gaza are the 0.05% of the total population (almost two thousand people), a small community that has great importance for the place.
“I have always been impressed by the richness of the Christian presence in Gaza,” says Tommaso Saltini, Director of the Association pro Terra Sancta, “it’s a small community, but it is full of hope although the great suffering it has experienced. They always help everyone without distinctions”. For this reason, upon the request of the ex President of the association and Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, since 2008, the Association pro Terra Sancta supports the charitable action of this little community. Also the new President and Custos of the Holy Land, Fr. Francesco Patton and members of the Association Assembly that met recently at the end of April 2017, have stressed on the importance of the help given to Gaza.
“Few people in Europe today are aware of the Christian Gaza, but it is a really important place, remembered both in the Old Testament and in the Acts of the Apostles: here in particular we remember the passage to Egypt of the Holy Family, which stopped in Gaza for a short period. There have been monks and some of the first Christian communities here. Even today, there are the remains of this precious secular presence: the famous monastery of St. Ilarion and two churches, one dedicated to St. John the Baptist (then turned into a mosque) and St. Porfirius.”
Fr. Mario Da Silva and the technical staff of the parish have already started to help some families, around thirty of them. Solar panels where installed as an alternative to the shortage of electricity supply. “But this project cost too much,” says the priest. “Since there are about two hundred families that need help, we had to think of another solution: 200 Amp electric batteries that last around 12/15 hours a day.”
But the funds are still not enough. For this reason, Fr. Mario turned to the Association pro Terra sancta, for help. We welcome the request and ask our friends and donors to help us bring electricity to Gaza’s Christians. To help them means to allow them to live a decent life.