Fr Romanelli speaks about “constant bombing”, not knowing how far “the forces on the ground will go”. The school and the Convent of the Sisters of the Rosary have been damaged. Electrical power is out and the water supply is at risk. The fear of war has replaced the fear of COVID-19. Daytime bombings are a “very negative sign”.
Gaza (AsiaNews) – The escalation of violence, which began in Jerusalem, has spread to the Gaza Strip turning into an open conflict with the involvement of Hamas.
At present, “The situation is very bad; we do not know at what point in the conflict we are and how far the forces on the ground will go. Here we get contradictory information, announcements and denials of a land operation, while bombings are constant,” said Gaza’s parish priest Fr Gabriel Romanelli, an Argentine priest of the Incarnate Word, speaking to AsiaNews.
“For now, all members of the Christian community are fine,” Fr Romanelli added, “and the structure of the church is holding; the school has suffered collateral damage related to the bombings as has the Convent of the Sisters of the Rosary, but all the nuns are doing well.”
For the Argentine priest, “a truce is necessary now; it would be a desirable and excellent thing, but there are no signs that point in that direction. On the contrary, things are going in the opposite direction, towards open conflict, and there are already many victims. Over a hundred of them and at least 27 children . . . It's terrible.
“The latest communiqué also mentions 600 injured and these are not numbers. The toll is already very high. Behind every death, behind each victim there is a story, a wound, a personal tragedy that gets even deeper when it involves minors.”
Even in everyday daily life the first, heavy repercussions are felt. Fr Romanelli explained that “Electrical power is starting to go; then it will be the water whose stocks will be less and less.
“Many people are already desperate to find refuge; yesterday they hit Shujah, a poor district, leaving many people homeless, wandering in search of refuge. Many are knocking on the doors of the UN mission here in the Gaza Strip looking for shelter” from the bombings that struck not only military targets, but also civilian areas.
In this tragic context, the Christian community is preparing to “meet the needs” bound to grow in the coming days. “At the moment we are all well,” said Fr Romanelli, “except for some material damage to buildings, solar panels and other infrastructure. People are not leaving their home, trying to stay as safe as possible.”
It is a paradoxical situation because “we had started to go out a few days ago hoping that we could get back to some form of normal life after a year of COVID-19, restrictions and lockdowns. We were experiencing a certain tranquillity, a newfound normality but the illusion did not last.”
Something else is a source of extreme concern for Fr Romanelli who is well aware of the violence and raids in the Gaza Strip, having experienced them first-hand.
“A very negative sign is that the bombings are also taking place during the day, not just at night as was usually the case in the past, and this means that the situation seems destined to get worse.”
“We must pray and rely on the Lord knowing that if men can make war, at the same time they can also make peace”.
Speaking about what triggered the violence, the escalation of tensions at the Haram esh-Sharif (Temple Mount) and Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood that spread to Gaza, the parish priest noted:
“Despite divisions and different administrations, the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza are part of the same body, part of the same people, and what happens in one place has implications elsewhere as well. Such a sudden outburst of violence took us by surprise, but we have been witnessing clashes and tensions for three weeks.”