Priest says Gaza ''as bad as hell"

A high ranking Church leader in Gaza has spoken out about the horrors of the Palestinian strip describing the escalating humanitarian crisis as "almost as bad as hell".

Total Catholic reports Msgr Manawel Musallam has condemned the Israeli blockade of Gaza describing it as "punishment until death" .

"Gaza is dying. This is not punishment for salvation, this is punishment for extermination, it is the punishment of a nation," Msgr Musalla said.

"Thousands of people had escaped Palestine into Egypt after gunmen blew up part of the border wall at the Rafah crossing.

"People have gone to find food and employment [in Egypt]. There is no food here, no employment here. We have a lack of water and electricity.

"The situation is critical. Streets are covered with sewage. I see the sick crying and dying.

Msgr Mussalem said Gaza's hospitals have been hit hard as Israel has cut off electricity and has only allowed 9 parcels of medications to enter."

"Children in the Holy Family Catholic School had to walk to school as there was no fuel for transport. Pupils and teachers arrive dirty because they cannot wash as water has to be pumped into buildings using electricity," he said.

"In our school canteen, we have to feed 700 pupils but have only enough food for 30 or 40.

"The cook cannot find anything to give them to eat. With no electricity and no water there is very little you can cook. You cannot even make a loaf of bread."

The heads of churches in Jerusalem and the Holy Land have issued a statement urging Israel to end the current blockade condemning it as "illegal collective punishment, an immoral act in violation of the basic human and natural laws as well as international law that cannot be tolerated anymore".

Gaza priest decries Israeli blockade (Total Catholic 24/01/08)

25 Jan 2008