Gaza City, Apr 9, 2018 / 23:02 pm
In the past six years the number of Christians in the Gaza Strip has plummeted from 4,500 to just 1,000, due to the harsh conditions under which they are living, according to the pastor of the territory's sole Catholic church.
Gazans “live like it's an open air prison since we can't leave. We can't visit relatives, look for work, medicine or good hospitals on the outside,” Fr. Mario da Silva told ACI Prensa.
The Gaza Strip is a 141 square mile area, part of Palestine, located to the west of Israel and home to 1.8 million persons. Since 2007, it has been ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas.
Since Hamas came to power there, Israel and Egypt have conducted an economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, restricting the flow of persons and goods in an effort to limit rocket attacks on Israel launched from the territory.
Fr. da Silva, a priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, recalled that when he arrived in Gaza in 2012 “the situation was already very difficult. Over time, you would hope the situation would get better, but it's only gotten worse.”
He related that inhabitants have only three hours of electricity a day, and there is a shortage of drinking water.
Most Gazans are unemployed, he said, and those who do work live on “about $150-200 a month.”
“It's really a prison. People don't have any money and the situation is terrible. There is widespread poverty.”