“This is a war that one can win. We are destined to lose, all of us. I hope this is clear also for those combating in name of two populations, who I am sure desire peace above all else”, said with tired voice Father Jorge Hernandez, a missionary of the Incarnate Word and parish priest of the Holy Family church of Gaza to MISNA.
Hernandez was contacted by MISNA on the sixth day of the Israeli ‘Pillar of Defence’ offensive against the Gaza Strip that has already left over 100 Palestinians and three Israelis dead and hundreds injured.
“We didn’t sleep much last night, the bombings continued all night long and not only from planes. The artillery fire continues also from the sea. An onslaught of fire that lasted hours, luckily not hitting our small Church”, Fr. Hernandez was quoted by MISNA as saying.
Fr. Hernandez is the priest of the only Catholic parish of the Gaza Strip, counting some 2,000 parishioners on a population of 1.5-million Palestinians in Gaza. The Holy Family is a point of referral for Gaza’s residents, not only Christians. The missionary Daughters of Charity of the Rosary and the Incarnate Word, an Argentinian religious family in charge of the church, also run the school, small oratory and an assistance center for disabled children, according to MISNA.
“We are 11 religious staff”, said Fr. Jorge, who had returned to Argentina to visit his sick father, but returned to Gaza when the situation began deteriorating. “At the Erez border pass I saw a large number of Israeli soldiers and military means massed along the border”, he explained to MISNA in response to whether he felt that an Israeli army invasion was imminent. “We however confide in God to illuminate the minds of those who decide our fates”.
Meanwhile, life is becoming more difficult by the day in Gaza.
“Families join together, because no one leaves their homes from fear of being hit by Israeli fire. Stores are closed, though luckily we have electric power so the women can make bread, without having to go out on the streets,” added the missionary.
On Saturday afternoon, the sisters began the “apostolate of telephone calls”, contacting as many parishioners as possible to ask if they need anything. “The people we spoke to are very frightened and pessimistic. But our concern is mainly the children, who don’t understand what is happening but are terrorized by the loud blasts and cannot sleep at night”, concluded Fr. Hernandez.