Following is a portion of a news report from Jeremy Reynalds, Corres-pondent for ASSIST News Service. He quotes the priest of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza, Manuel Mussallam describing conditions in Gaza. I offer several excerpts.
"From the valley of tears, from Gaza that is sinking in its blood, the blood that has strangled the joy in the hearts of one and a half million inhabitants, I send you this message of faith and hope. But the message of love is imprisoned; choked in our throats as Christians; we do not venture to even say it to ourselves. The priests of the Church today are raising hope as a banner, so that God will have mercy on us and have compassion on us and keep a remnant for himself in Gaza so that the light of Christ that was lit by Deacon Philip at the establishment of the church will not be extinguished. . ."
“The children of Gaza and their parents are sleeping in the corridors of their home, if there are any, or in the toilets and bathrooms for their protection. They are trembling with fear at every voice, movement and bombardment and the heavy shelling of the F-16 planes. “The planes in most of their flights have targeted the main government and Hamas headquarters, these buildings are as close as six meters from people's homes.
“As a result, people's homes have been severely damaged and many children have died because of this. Our children are living in a state of trauma and fear. They are sick from it and for other reasons such as the lack of food, malnutrition, poverty and the cold. Our people in Gaza are treated like animals in a zoo, they eat but remain hungry, they cry, but no one wipes their tears. There is no water, no electricity, no food, but fear, terror and blockade."
Mussallam asked those who read his letter to remember the suffering in Gaza. "We want you to raise your continuous prayers to God . . . I am sending short messages from the Bible to our parishioners to increase the hope in their hearts."
He concluded, "In the midst of all this, our people in Gaza remain rejecting war as a means for peace and confirming that the road to peace is peace. We in Gaza are steadfast and have resolution in our eyes, 'between slavery and death, we have no choice.' We want to live to praise the Lord in Palestine and witness for Christ, we want to live for Palestine, not die for it, but if death is imposed on us, we will die honest, brave and strong."
I can scarcely comprehend the inhumanity of humanity. Having experienced the holocaust and countless indignities and dispersions, Israeli’s of all people, should feel for other human beings. They reason that they have a right to defend themselves, yet they have national recognition only because the Western powers carved out a chunk of Palestine and named it Israel in 1948--by decree--and that for selfish reasons. Moreover, they continue to occupy lands not really theirs, and they barricade Gaza residents, preventing them from obtaining the essentials of life.
On the other hand, Hamas (if they believe in God at all) are militant Islamic resistors. Muslims, worship God (Allah in Arabic) on whom they cannot agree as to whether he is peaceable or justifies jihad and converts by force. Hamas does not accept the national rights of Israel and they justify launching rockets into Israel as being their only means of protesting their destitute circumstances from Israel‘s blockade.
I protest the suffering on both sides and acknowledge the rights of humanity on both sides, although I agree with neither when it comes to God. This battle is centuries old and it only proves rather conclusively that neither Israel nor Hamas have an adequate answer, politically or religiously.
Only reconciliation is powerful enough to destroy the powers of greed, hatred, and hostility. Only the power of love that God expressed through the Christ is sufficient to transform the human heart. It is time to consider a second opinion. It is time for all of us to help both parties to come to the bargaining table and work out an equitable and humane solution that provides a place for both Jews and Palestinians.
Let us pray to that end.