07/13/2018, 18.20
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
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For Gaza’s parish priest, ‘people are desperate’ but ‘we continue to hope for peace’

Basic items are starting to run out following the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing. Electricity is down to 4 hours a day with half an hour break. People want to leave to "look for another life in another place". The Church supports the local Christian community.

Gaza (AsiaNews) - The population of the Gaza Strip "has no hope" and lives "expecting the worst,” said Fr Mario da Silva, parish priest of the small Christian community, speaking to AsiaNews.

The closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing on Monday has worsened the situation in the Strip, already unbearable for months. Residents live with four hours of electricity a day, which includes a half-hour break.

"With the closure, basic items are running out. People start to worry and wonder if there will be gasoline, food, which are already in short supply."

The residents are getting more desperate, a rpoblem already aggravated by the lack of payments for public employees, who have not received salaries for months, or "receive 50 per cent every two months".

"Given the situation in which we live, people always expect the worst,” Fr Da Silva said. “In terms of violence, the situation has improved, but people are still desperate in any case.”

"It seems that the latest news is never good. After the violence of recent months, one could expect good news, but no: the news is getting worse ".

The only positive thing comes from Egyptian. Cairo re-opened the Rafah crossing (reserved for the passage of people) at the beginning of the month of Ramadan.

However, this also highlights the Palestinians' lack of hope for the future. Thousands of people have left and will not return.

"There is a general desire of getting out, to find another life in another place,” said the parish priest. “There is no hope that things will improve."

For its part, the Church has sought to protect the small Christian community in every possible way, creating job opportunities for young Christians in Gaza. About 50 work for the Church.

"We also created a cultural centre to teach English, to use computers and things like that, so they can stay". The parish has also sought to financially support the 110 members of the community who have public jobs but who have not been paid.”

"Every month we give 200-250 dollars, so that Christians can survive," he said. But such efforts are not enough. "We can do very little so when they find an opportunity they try to leave."

In June, the Church offered 200 children from the Christian community the opportunity to attend a summer camp, hosting them from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm, "to give them some relief".

July is dedicated to young people, "to give them a little joy," and next month is reserved for families.

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