Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Catholic parish in Gaza bombed

Religión Digital (English translation by Rebel Girl)
July 30, 2014

The Holy Family Catholic parish, located in the al-Zeitun neighborhood of Gaza and until today a stronghold in which 29 disabled children and nine elderly women aided by three nuns found refuge, was also hit by Israeli bombs. This morning, in fact, the bombing destroyed the home of the Institute of the Incarnate Word nuns within the facility. The explosions also damaged the old parochial school, the pastor's office and other areas.

This was reported today by Argentine priest Jorge Hernandez, pastor of Holy Family Church in Gaza, who has decided to remain with his faithful since the Israeli offensive began on July 8th.

"Unfortunately, the resistance movement is always around the houses or in the streets That was our problem yesterday... At a given point, we couldn't leave the house. Then came the bombings," he said.

This is what the priest told Vatican Radio, between artillery shots that could be heard in the background as he was giving the interview. According to Father Hernandez, "a home here, near the church, was hit and we noticed serious consequences in the rectory and school."

Father Hernandez, who received a message of solidarity from Pope Francis a few days ago also spoke about the impossibility of escaping as so many Gazans have done. "We can't move. How do you get 29 disabled children and nine elderly people out? You can't. No way," the priest continued.

It's also impossible to move to another place because, according to the Argentine priest, "these aren't orphans" and "we aren't their guardians."

So, "without permission, we can't do it. Moreover, leaving the house is dangerous. So we're here, trying to hold on."

The 29 disabled children miraculously survived the bombs only because at that moment they were inside the Church, says the Unione Nazionale Italiana Trasporto Ammalati a Lourdes e Santuari Internazionali (Unitalsi).

Speaking of the Sunday prayer by the Pope on behalf of children who are caught in conflicts, the priest said there's a need for someone to say "enough" and "put an end to this slaughter, because it's stunning."

But sadly, "the Pope isn't always heard." On the other hand, Father Hernandez said that two days ago he witnessed a tragedy. "The house of a Christian family was bombed, the mother died, the father was injured, and the son is struggling to survive in a hospital" in which "there isn't the means or the space."

"It's an absurd war that, nonetheless, goes on," the priest said. The main target of the attack that hit the parish was a house that is a few meters from the Catholic facility and was completely destroyed by the attack. Yesterday afternoon, the Vatican news agency reported, the Israeli army began sending text messages to residents of the eastern district of al-Zeitun. In these messages, the army ordered the inhabitants out of the houses that would later be bombed. Many people fled, but evacuation wasn't possible for those currently living in the church, about 50 people.

"It's an absurd spiral. Both parties must listen to the voice of reason, stop this slaughter, and go into negotiations with the real intention of addressing and solving problems," said Msgr. William Shomali, Auxiliary Bishop of Jerusalem and Patriarchal Vicar for Palestine. "It's like World War II, total destruction."

"It's striking everyone -- civilians, women, children and hospitals," Father Raed Abusahlia, director of Caritas of Israel and Palestine, commented. Christians are also victims of the bombs. The homes and schools in the community of 1,300 people -- 310 families total -- aren't safe.

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