ASIA/HOLY LAND - Lara and all the others: The young lives sacrificed in the massacre in Gaza

Friday, 26 April 2024 youth   middle east   wars   local churches  

by Father Ibrahim Faltas ofm*

Jerusalem (Agenzia Fides) - It is a duty to remember with sadness and respect every human life lost due to the violence of war. These are losses that could have been avoided. But humanity is looking for the possibility of war and not for the possible peace. Among the many innocent victims, particularly sad is the preventable death of Lara al-Sayegh, an 18-year-old refugee girl who took refuge in the parishes of Gaza since 7 October together with 650 other Christians. After the loss of her father, who died on December 21st due to lack of vital care, Lara sought refuge in the church and community rooms with her mother and other people for seven months. She eventually made her way to Egypt with her mother and died of heat and sunstroke. That's what was said. The mother is in a coma for the same reason and because of the immense pain. Lara, like so many innocents, had already suffered pain and deprivation, strived for a dignified life and suffered deception at the hands of those who unscrupulously assured her of the hope of freedom. She was buried at the place where she met her death. I am in constant contact with the deputy parish priest of the Catholic church in Gaza, Father Youssef, and I feel his suffering every day as pastor of a grief-stricken community. In Gaza, people have been suffering for seven months from war that is causing death, destruction and fear. People die from bombs, under collapsed buildings, from hunger, thirst, cold and heat. In Gaza there is a lack of everything and especially of any kind of help. I feel the willingness of those who would like to help and are prevented from doing so. So many men and women of good will would like to help with health care, but children who need immediate and essential care are not allowed. I learned that Modena can accommodate three children suffering from a rare disease, epidermolysis bullosa, the so-called "butterfly child syndrome". The disease makes their skin so sensitive that the slightest friction causes it to become inflamed and fill with sores that can only be soothed by the constant application of creamy bandages. With the heat and the lack of specific treatment, their suffering becomes worse and worse.
These children are already in Rafah, but it is not easy to bring them from Gaza to Italy. I face many difficulties, but I pray and trust in God's help and in the help of so many men and women who are peacemakers. Humanity has struggled with pandemics, disease and environmental disasters in the past and more recently, creating solidarity and sharing in the process. Wars wanted by a few destroy and spread violence and hatred with the complicity of a silent humanity, deaf and blind to the essential and vital needs of its fellow human beings. Pope Francis calls for a just peace for wounded humanity. He demands it for everyone, without distinction. He calls for a rejection of war forever, he calls for the abolition of all violence of oppression. He calls for genuine, constructive, solid and decisive negotiations for a definitive peace. He calls for dignity for two peoples who have suffered and are still suffering. He calls for valuing and respecting human life, protecting it and ensuring social justice by guaranteeing the most basic rights, especially for the weak and defenseless.
Lara's death and other young people is sad and difficult to understand. There are no reasons or justifications for all violent and preventable deaths. We ask Almighty God for forgiveness in the hope that humanity will forget the evil of war. (Agenzia Fides, 26/4/2024)
* Vicar of the Custody of the Holy Land