One year after Gaza conflict
Home to 1.5 million Palestinians, Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth.
One year after the conflict in Gaza, there is much rebuilding of lives and homes still yet to be done.
Border restrictions mean that people are trapped inside with limited access to goods and services.
The consequences of these restrictions was brought into sharp focus when Israel launched a military campaign against militants in Gaza last Christmas.
One year later much rebuilding of lives and homes has yet to be done.
Joseph Donnelly is Caritas Internationalis’ representative at the UN in New York and was the Caritas representative in the Holy Land during the crisis.
Here are some extracts from an interview he did with Philippa Hitchen at Vatican Radio. Listen
Resilience amid restrictions
“Even in the light of checkpoints, borders and walls, one of the extraordinary paradoxes is that people by and large don’t give up.”
“In the early days after the invasion, there were no pens and pencils in schools, nor were there more substantial things such as building materials. There has been some opening up of restrictions in recent months but the sheer need for movement of supplies into Gaza has prevented any major development.”
One year after the Crisis
“One year later, people live on an incredible cutting edge of almost despair, but the level of lived faith of Christians and Muslims in Gaza is extraordinary. However, colleagues last month were saying how they were grateful for the 60th anniversary recognition for the work of UNWRA and for the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People but they are also weary of waiting for something to happen with all of that.”
Caritas in Gaza
“The Catholic world’s response to Caritas on the ground has been enormous. There’s been a huge groundswell of support but that could never compensate for the lack of freedom.”
“Everything that Caritas did before December 2008 is back in motion today. Local families and store owners often offer help with supplies, so that spirit of walking with one another goes on. And Caritas staff in Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank have developed a network of exchange. That works fairly well as long as there isn’t daily physical violence which would prevent those sorts of negotiating patterns.”
Healing and change
“There is an overwhelming feeling that the outside world has lost the sense that they can change the situation. There is a call within the Arab world and within Palestinian society that to be healed in this conflict we must heal ourselves and so the rift between Gaza and Ramallah, Gaza and the West Bank, between Hamas and Fatah, must be reconciled. Many stakeholders in the Israeli community recognise that in President Abbas they have a peace partner. There is a growing capacity of Palestinian civil society to not only understand their rights but to understand in practical ways that they can’t always be saying “we didn’t create this problem”, but rather to seize the day and say “so much is at stake that we must seize this opportunity”.”
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