11/20/2023, 19.03
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Israeli forces surround the home of Mother Teresa's nuns in Gaza

by Dario Salvi

Sources told AsiaNews that at least 60 people in need of care are inside, from the severely disabled to the bedridden seniors. The IDF reportedly authorised the evacuation of the Missionaries of Charity, but not the residents or the staff. The women religious refused sharing a loaf of bread or an orange as a meal. Christian religious leaders in the Holy Land speak out against attacks by Jewish settlers on the Armenian Quarter.


Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - The Gaza headquarters of the Missionary of Charity, the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta (Kolkata), is under siege. Their fate and especially that of the people hosted at the facility is a source of anxiety; like patients in health centres and hospitals, they are the victims of the war Israel launched against Hamas more than a month ago.

In a message, Sr Chiara raised the alarm, while fears are growing about the fate of the disabled and handicapped entrusted to the nuns’ care.

The “whole area" where the nuns' facility is located "is surrounded by the Israeli army,” said Fr Francis Xavier, commissioner of the Holy Land in India, speaking to AsiaNews this morning,

local sources report that the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) gave the nuns an opportunity to be evacuated, but not the disabled and the remaining staff.

“Some of these people are not self-sufficient and cannot move on their own,” a witness explained. Others “are not even able to feed themselves" and "need complete assistance", which is why the Sisters’ presence is essential.

The convent of the Sisters of Mother Teresa, and the Holy Family parish, are not far from the al-Shifa hospital, which has been under siege for days by Israeli forces hunting for Hamas members and weapons in the underground tunnels.

The hunt has exacerbated an already unsustainable humanitarian emergency, with doctors under siege and patients unable to receive even lifesaving care, including children.

"Communications with the outside world have been cut off" while “landline phones are connected to the network” from time to time.

Three nuns and 60 guests are at the convent, most of whom need lots of help, from disabled and mentally ill children to bedridden seniors with bedsores. They have no food, no water, no medicine, no electricity, no gas.

Sometimes, says a source in Jerusalem, "some generous and courageous people bring something to eat. Whatever they receive from outside, the Sisters serve their guests first. If there is anything left, they eat that. Sometimes they only have one meal a day. One day they had only a loaf of bread, which the three of them shared; another day they fed themselves with only an orange to share" amid deep need and great hardships.

Threats and attacks against Christians are not limited to the Gaza Strip, but are also the subject of controversy and alarm in the holy city.

Over the weekend, the Council of Patriarchs and Heads of Churches of Jerusalem released a harshly worded statement over recent attacks by Jewish settlers in the Christian and Armenian quarters.

“We, as the Christian community of Jerusalem and the Holy Land, share grave concern over the recent events taking place within the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem.”

The bone of contention is “a contested contract for development on a considerable portion of the Armenian Quarter [which] has been declared cancelled.

“Instead of being handled through the proper channels, the alleged developers have decided to hire armed provocateurs, obstruct parking entrances, and begin demolition work,” reads the press release.

Such “events potentially endanger and could “erase the Armenian presence in the area, weakening and endangering the Christian presence in the Holy Land.”

The patriarchs and heads of the Churches end their statement, reiterating their “solidarity with the Armenian Patriarchate and community in their decision to take the proper legal procedures in their cancellation of this transaction and urgently appeal to all relevant governmental and non-governmental bodies able to assist in this matter to help us restore the former peace and harmony.”

(Nirmala Carvalho contributed to this article)

Photo: Stock image of the Missionaries of Charity community in Gaza / Christian Media Center

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