Patriarch Pizzaballa: internal tensions, more than war, are a sign of deep crisis
The conflict between Israel and Hamas “is nothing new”, not so the “internal unrest” in Israel where the identity of the Jewish state, the question of Jerusalem, and religion are unresolved issues. The Church plans to hold a prayer vigil. Peace, justice and forgiveness are needed to heal the wounds of the Holy Land.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The latest fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza has sparked violence between Jews and Arabs in various Israeli and Palestinian cities. For Mgr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, this represents a change.
“The war between Israel and Hamas is nothing new, unfortunately, and will lead to nothing, other than more rubble and deaths.” However, “domestic tensions and unrest” in Israel itself is a novelty, a “sign of deep crisis” that has been developing for some time and which is now coming to the fore.
“The Jewish state has an identity problem, combined with the issues of Jerusalem and religion.” The use of a language of violence and violent speeches by some “right-wing parties” were “the spark that finally set off” the conflict, fuelled by an “already explosive mixture”.
The military clash between the Israeli army and Hamas, the latter backed by jihadi groups in the Strip, continues. At the same time, some 3,750 have been fired against Israel, with more than 90 per cent intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defence system.
For their part, Israeli planes have continued to pummel Hamas' network of tunnels in the Strip, hitting 40 of them and destroying another 12 km of underground sites, including weapons depots and command centres. At least 10 Hamas operatives have been killed.
In almost 10 days, 219 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 63 children, 36 women and 16 seniors, plus 1,530 injured.
Yesterday, in a rare show of unity, Palestinians and Israeli Arabs held a general strike in protest against Israel's discriminatory and oppressive policies and the Gaza bombing.
Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza and Arabs with Israeli citizenship, some of whom call themselves “Palestinians in Israel”, as well as descendants of those who lived in the territories before 1948, took part in the strike.
Various analysts and experts point out that this element represents the real novelty of the current phase because, for the first time, communities hitherto divided geographically and politically came together for the same purpose.
“The war in Gaza is like the other wars of the past, and there will be more in the future if the root problems are not addressed,” warns Patriarch Pizzaballa. The latter include “the issue of the Palestinian people” and a “respectful dialogue between the parties” that has so far been missing.
Moreover, all the governments that have ruled Israel in the past few years have not helped the peace process, nor favoured dialogue and détente between the parties.
On the contrary, caretaker Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be strengthened by the military crisis at a time when a new parliamentary coalition seemed on the verge of removing him from office.
A prayer vigil will be held this Saturday, Patriarch Pizzaballa told AsiaNews, in all the churches of the Holy Land, that the sound of weapons may cease and the sound of peace and dialogue may resound.
“Christians can help rebuild dialogue and foster rapprochement within our institutions,” he explained. However, “We need to speak respectfully and clearly,” noted the patriarch in a warning to western governments and the international community.
Now “it is no longer time for general statements. We need parrhesia, a clear and frank language. It is time for the parties to act wit responsibility in order to rebuild our common home.”
“Peace and justice are needed,” ultimately. But, at the same time, for Patriarch Pizzaballa, “another fundamental word, forgiveness,” must be added. “But that will take time.”