Biblical lamentations as Gaza descends into disaster

A local priest has compared life in Gaza with that described in the Lamentations of Jeremiah, as Caritas Jerusalem launches a urgent humanitarian appeal following Israeli bombings of power stations in the Palestinian territory.

"If you wish to really understand what is taking place in the Gaza Strip, please open your Bible and read the Lamentations of Jeremiah. This is what we are all living. People are crying, hungry, thirsty and desperate," said Fr Manuel Musallam from Gaza.

The Lamentations of Jeremiah, found in the Old Testament and Jewish Tanakh, mourns over the desolations brought on Jerusalem and the Holy Land by the Chaldeans.

Independent Catholic News reports that the current situation in the Gaza Strip is descending into a serious humanitarian disaster as Israel continues to hammer Palestinian-controlled Gaza with air strikes and artillery since one of their soldiers was kidnapped last month.

According to Caritas Jerusalem, which operates a medical centre in the Gaza Strip as well as a mobile medical clinic, the bombing of the main power station in Gaza has seriously disrupted electrical supplies, threatening the lives of ordinary civilians.

With the electricity cut, Caritas says, ordinary people will not be able to get water pumped from wells. It says cutting the power will have serious and far-reaching consequences especially for the sick, old, small children, and babies.

Caritas Jerusalem's medical director, Dr Bandaly, who is a native of Gaza, says that he has never seen Gaza in such a bad situation. Dr Bandaly, concerned of an invasion into the Gaza Strip, is asking international humanitarian assistance.

Fr Musallam said: "They [Palestinians] are suffering from hunger. They need food. Even if there is food for sale, people have no money to buy food.

"They have no income, no opportunities to get food from outside and no opportunities to secure money inside Gaza. No work. No livelihood. No future. They have no hope and many very poor people are aimlessly wandering around trying to beg for something from others who also have nothing. It is heart breaking to see," he said.

He says the actions of the Israeli government are "war crimes." "I beg you; we do not need pity," he said, "We only need justice. If you don't give justice, there will be no peace. Peace is the farthest thing away from the mind of anyone, Christian or Moslem, in Gaza at this time."

Caritas Jerusalem has issued an appeal for financial support for the project "Emergency Support for Palestine" with initial commitments received from Caritas Australia and other Caritas agencies.

Urgent appeal from Caritas and churches in Gaza (Independent Catholic News, 7/7/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Caritas Internationalis
Caritas Jerusalem in the village of Aboud (Caritas International)
Caritas Australia
The Lamentations of Jeremiah

Vatican official commends Israel withdrawal from Gaza (CathNews 26/8/05)
Caritas Australia provides assistance to Caritas Jerusalem (CathNews 18/4/02)

7 Jul 2006