Residents under fire, seek end to stifling blockade.
As the number of Palestinian deaths in the current conflict with Israel exceeded 580, and the latest round of Israeli raids affected four mosques and several health centers, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem of the Latins, commented, "What is happening in Gaza is not a war, but rather a massacre, a useless massacre, which will not advance even one step Israel towards peace and security."
"On the contrary, with all these human sacrifices, the hearts of Israelis and Palestinians are full of new hatred," Patriarch Sabbah told Fides. "The means to achieve peace can only be a means of peace. For 60 years we have seen that wars, weapons, massacres are unable to secure any kind of peace."
According to the patriarch emeritus, "the only way out of the spiral of violence and destruction is to address the underlying issue, which is the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. There will be peace and security only when Israel will recognize the freedom and sovereignty of the Palestinian state. But maybe we will have to wait for a new generation of Israeli leaders to see this happen. The current leaders believe only in military force. They have sophisticated weapons to kill, and no power to make peace."
Part of the problem, according to an AP report today, is a blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt after Hamas seized Gaza in 2007. Many Gaza residents say the closure is like a slow death: it prevents them from traveling, from importing cement to build homes and increasingly from earning enough to feed their families.
Disagreement over whether and how to lift the Gaza closure is a key stumbling block to ending more than two weeks of fighting between the Islamic militant Hamas and Israel.
And in a way, it is emerging as the Gazan equivalent of what is single-mindedly driving the Israelis — the rocket fire from Gaza, which they feel must stop at almost any cost. For the Gazans, it is the blockade that must stop, and the fact that Hamas is demanding this appears to have gained its tactics genuine support.