For the Christian community in Gaza, CRS staff said that the intensive bombing has been “traumatizing.” Six Christian families have sought refuge at a Catholic parish in Gaza, while the Missionaries of Charity continue to operate a home for severely-disabled children.
The destruction has been exacerbated by twin crises – the recent COVID-19 pandemic, and long-standing issues of unemployment and poverty caused by Israel’s blockade of the narrow strip of land, O’Keefe said. While one COVID testing center in Gaza was destroyed, CRS is working with Caritas Jerusalem and other groups to get in-home care to families in Gaza suffering from the virus.
A critical project will be quickly rebuilding residences and infrastructure in Gaza, he said.
“We know that there is going to have to be a massive rebuilding effort,” he said. “It’s in everyone’s interest to make sure that effort is generously funded and moves forward quickly.”
“Our team is already figuring out how to get assistance to the thousands of people who have lost their homes,” he said.
Hamas began firing rockets on May 10 following escalating tensions on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. Palestinians clashed with Israeli police beginning on May 7, the last Friday of the Islamic season of Ramadan, outside al-Aqsa Mosque. More than 200 Palestinians and 17 police officers were reportedly injured from the clashes.
Muslims claimed they were prevented by Israeli authorities from gathering at sites in Jerusalem during Ramadan. Palestinians were also protesting planned evictions of Palestinian residents from Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, a case which is currently before Israel’s supreme court.
Within Israel, violence broke out sporadically among Arab and Jewish mobs in recent days, with synagogues targeted, as well as stores, and homes on both sides.
Pope Francis called the violence between neighbors “a serious wound to fraternity,” one “which will be difficult to heal if there is not an immediate opening to dialogue.”
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, in a May 9 statement, said, “Insofar as far as the rights of everyone, Israelis and Palestinians, are not upheld and respected, there will be no justice and therefore no peace in the city.”
A joint statement that day of the heads of the Christian Churches said that “recent violent events in East Jerusalem” did “violate the sanctity of the people of Jerusalem and of Jerusalem as the City of Peace. The actions undermining the safety of worshippers and the dignity of the Palestinians who are subject to eviction are unacceptable.”
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