From the Church of God in
To “the holy and faithful
brothers in Christ”
Father Manuel Musallam, Parish
Priest of Gaza
Peace and blessings upon
you, as we pray to God to lift man`s anger and shower Gaza with his
mercy and kindness.
Gaza was suffering prior
before the war, it suffered during the war and it will continue to
suffer after the war.
Hundreds of people have been
killed and many more injured in the Israeli invasion. Our people have
endured the bombing of their homes, their crops have been destroyed,
they have lost everything and are many now homeless. We have endured
phosphorus bombs which have caused horrific burns, mainly to civilians.
Like the early Christians our people are living through a time of great
persecution, a persecution which we must record for future generations
as a statement of their faith, hope and love.
Many families fled to United
Nations (UNRWA) schools where they thought they would be safe. But with
50-60 people surviving in one room, no electricity, water, bedding or
food and nowhere to wash, living conditions are terrible.
Emergency aid has not yet
arrived at the Church and because they are too frightened to venture
onto the streets our people cannot reach the warehouses which hold Red
Cross and UNRWA relief supplies. We trust in God but appeal to the whole
world and in particular the Church to help Gaza. Your prayers and your
kindness will be our salvation.
The war has affected everyone
in Gaza. A teacher fled to our school with her husband and four
children. He was hit by shrapnel from an Israeli bomb and his legs badly
injured. She is distraught and terrified and when I spoke to her she was
desperately looking for clean water to make a bottle for her baby.
The Church has lost a 26 year
old Catholic man, Naseem Saba, who was killed in an Israeli air raid on
7 January. The day before Israeli jets destroyed his family home where
he lived with his three uncles.
As well as the destruction and
physical injuries the mental trauma of our people is incalculable. They
will need help and support for years to come. They will have to find
somewhere to live and we will need centres for those injured and
disabled in the shelling, special schools for traumatised or orphaned
children and a whole array of rehabilitation services.
Clean water is scarce so both
our schools in Remal and Zaitoon provide local people with water from an
artesian well, dug through the generosity of Austrian donors. The
school`s generator produces electricity for the nearby bakery as there
have been no bread deliveries for weeks. People say: “The priest has
become a baker," and it’s true, we are glad to be able to do it.
The war must end now. The
world has to find a solution for the Palestinian people and not simply
revert to the position they were in before it began. The borders with
Israel must be redrawn and the occupation, which began 60 years ago, has
The status of Palestinian
refugees must be resolved pursuant to the Right of Return and East
Jerusalem must be the Palestinian state capital. We must raze the
Apartheid Wall, open the border crossings, free Palestinian detainees
and remove Israeli settlements so the land can be returned to its
original Palestinian owners.
Peace is only possible if it
embraces justice. If the world grants the Palestinian people their human
rights there will surely be peace in the Middle East.
From all the people of Gaza we
thank you, our friends everywhere, for your constant prayers and
particularly for the support which we urgently need and we hope will
reach us soon. We thank His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI for his stance
in calling for peace in the Middle East and for his generous support to
the poor of Gaza. And we thank all bishops, priests, pastors, monks and
nuns across the world for remembering us in their prayers.
On behalf of every Gazan, we
share your prayers and say to the world: “From now on, let no one cause
me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our
Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.” (Galatians 6:
Father Manuel Musallam
Pastor of the Catholic
January 20, 2009