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Israeli Bombing Hits Dangerously Close to Catholic Parish and School in Gaza

Patriarcat Latin de Jérusalem

Agenzia Fides - published on 07/30/14

"We cannot evacuate; it is impossible with children," says pastor.

A bombing carried out by the Israeli army this morning near the Catholic parish in Gaza, dedicated to the Holy Family, has partially destroyed the adjacent parish school, the pastor’s office and some rooms used by the parish, according to the pastor, Father Jorge Hernandez.

The main target of the bombing was a home that is situated a few meters from the parish and was completely destroyed by the raid.

Yesterday afternoon, the Israeli army had begun to send SMS messages to residents of al-Zeitun—the eastern area of Gaza City which houses the Catholic and Orthodox parish—and ordered to leave the homes that would have been bombed. Many people ran away, but the evacuation was not possible for those who currently live in the church: in addition to Father Hernandez, an Argentine priest of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, there are three Missionaries of Charity along with 29 disabled children and nine elderly women in their care at the parish of the Holy Family.

"We had a tough night, but we are here," said Father Hernandez. "This war is absurd. After destroying the neighborhood of Shujayeh, now Zeitun is being targeted. Everything happens around us. The Hamas militants continue to fire rockets and then hide in the alleys. And we cannot do anything. We cannot evacuate; it is impossible with children. Their families live here. It is more dangerous to go out than stay here. We try to stay in safer places, always on the ground floor."

"It is an absurd spiral: both sides," Bishop William Shomali, Patriarchal Vicar of the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, told Fides. "We must listen to the voice of reason, stop the bloodshed and begin negotiations in order to address and solve problems. Otherwise, all this violence will continue to repeat itself cyclically, the same causes will continue to produce the same effects."

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