Archbishop Lazzarotto said that Pope Francis’s “peace prayer summit” at the Vatican last month sowed the first seed of dialogue.
“Now, let us surround this seed with care, make it grow and make it bear the fruit that it should give; understand the meaning of the gesture of the Pope and translate it into concrete actions such as the Holy Father is urging continuously. It takes concrete actions and courage. The Pope pointed out many times: peace needs courageous gestures. It is time for political leaders of all parties to understand this and move in this direction.”
With the resources it has available, the Church in the Holy Land, he says, does everything it can to help. As an example of concrete gestures, he indicates the on-site assistance that local Catholic aid agencies such as Caritas are able to offer “to bring immediate help to these people who are directly affected.”
Father Abusahlia of Caritas pointed out that the conflict has led to “the destruction of entire neighbourhoods. Can you imagine more than 1,200 homes razed to the ground. Gaza is a very populated city; when one house is hit, also the surrounding ones are damaged. Now there are as many as 20,000 that were hit and rendered basically inaccessible.”
But it is not only homes being destroyed, but entire families. “Over 36 families have been entirely wiped out, while Gaza remains without running water and electricity, and the hospitals are without the necessary means to assist those in need,” said Father Abusahlia.
He said the priority should be to “immediately silence the weapons, reopen all border crossings and especially eradicate the causes of the conflict, lifting a blockade imposed for 12 years on Gaza, making it the world’s largest open-air prison.”