ASIA/HOLY LAND - International Delegation of Bishops visit Gaza; for Archbishop Fontana "a devastated situation"

Monday, 12 January 2015

Gaza (Agenzia Fides) – The group of 16 Bishops who make up the Holy Land Coordination (Hlc), a body that brings together Bishops and representatives of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe and North America (see Fides 07/01/2015), began their visit to Palestine and Israel with the sufferings and hopes of the people of Gaza. "On Sunday afternoon, after an 8-hour break at the Erez crossing" refers to Agenzia Fides Italian Archbishop Riccardo Fontana, head of the diocese of Arezzo-Cortona-Sansepolcro "we arrived in Gaza, we celebrated Mass and we immediately met some families. We had the impression that we are in a devastated situation. They told us of the three children who died in the cold. There is electric current only for a few hours. And one is grief-stricken to see that everyone, starting from the children, realize that they are victims of violence, and know who is responsible for this injustice. A third grade girl told us: they have destroyed our houses, but mostly they have taken children away from their mothers and mothers from their children. An older boy warned us: people come here to ask us if we need food and aid. But we only need the one thing that no one promises us: to be treated as men, recognized in their dignity".
In order to enter the Gaza Strip, the delegation of Bishops had to overcome many difficulties: at the Erez crossing, the Israeli authorities denied the delegation permission to enter the Strip. The prelates then began a long negotiation, and eventually they got permission to enter in groups of three. The program of the visit also includes a meeting with the people of Sderot - the Israeli settlement reached by the launch of rockets fired from the Gaza Strip during the military campaign in July - and a stop at the Cremisan Valley. (GV) (Agenzia Fides 12/01/2015)