Gaza Priest: This Is Unbearable

Israeli Attacks Intensify Again Since Mid-August

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ROME, SEPT. 9, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The parish priest of Holy Family Church in Gaza says the needs and humiliations people are facing every day in the region are "unbearable."

This was the evaluation given by Father George Hernández to the Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

Father Hernández told ACN staff visiting Gaza for project assessment that people have been "repeatedly subjected to low-level flyovers and even bombardments by the Israeli Air Force."

Israeli attacks began after the Popular Resistance Committee in Gaza attacked a bus carrying Israeli soldiers on Aug. 18. The attack killed 14.

The following week, there were 41 air strikes, ACN reported, with a death toll of 17 Palestinians, 12 of whom were members of radical Islamist groups. Another 20 were wounded, including  six children.

Church aid

Sister Davida of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary told ACN that Gaza children are still dramatically affected by the 2008-2009 war.

Her congregation runs a school with 630 students.

"During the war, several girls died of heart failure. Even today, many children react to aircraft noise with fear and panic," she said.

Gaza is populated by some 1.5 million people, only 3,000 of whom are Christian. The Church runs a number of projects to support the local community.
The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem funds two schools in Father Hernández's parish, attended by 1,100 boys and girls.

These schools, like the one run by the Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary, accept students regardless of their religion. Most pupils come from Muslim families.

Travel restrictions in and out of Gaza continue to make employment difficult, and it is reported that 80% of the population has no regular income.

Last March, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) concluded that Israel's "easing of the blockade on the Gaza Strip since June 2010 did not result in a significant improvement in people's livelihoods, which were largely depleted during three years of strict blockade."