"Father Manuel Mussallam ∙ Al Moharar via Uruknet ∙ January 18, 2009
Father Manuel Mussallam is a cousin of Ibrahim Ebeid, the Co-Editor of Al-Moharer. He is the Pastor of the Latin Church in Gaza, and he sent him a letter describing the horrific situation in Gaza. We hope that his cries will fall on open ears and move the hearts of those who ignore the suffering of the Palestinians.
Father Manuel is very active for the Palestinian cause and he is very popular in Gaza and well respected.
Here is some of what he says in his message:
What you see on television and what you hear is not all of the harsh reality experienced by our people in Gaza. The television and radio cannot transmit the whole truth because of its immensity in our land. The bitter siege on Gaza has become a hurricane that is growing every hour until it has become a war crime, a crime against humanity. If the people of Gaza are now presenting their tragedy to the court of conscience of every human, who has “goodwill”, the time to come is the time of God’s just court.
The children of Gaza and their parents are sleeping in the corridors of their home, if there are any, or in the bathrooms for their protection. They are trembling with fear at every voice, movement and bombardment and the heavy shelling of the F-16 planes.
The “Israeli” planes have targeted the main government and Hamas headquarters, but all of these headquarters are near people’s homes, and are not more than 6 meters away, which is the legal distance between buildings. Therefore, people’s homes have been severely damaged and many children have died because of this.
Our children are living in a state of trauma and fear. They are sick from it and for other reasons such as the lack of food, malnutrition, poverty and the cold…
As for the tragedies that are occurring in the hospitals, you can say what you like. These hospitals did not have basic first aid before the war and now thousands of the wounded and the sick are pouring into the hospitals and they are performing operations in the hospital corridors. Many of them are sent to the Rafah crossing to Egypt, those who pass may not return because they die on the way and the situation of the people in the hospitals is frightening and sad, hysteric.
I would like to tell you a story that happened in the hospital with the Abdel Latif family. One of their sons had disappeared during the first bombing and his family looked for him, but did not find him on the first or the second day of the war. On the third day, while the family was walking around the hospital, they came upon the Jaradah family who were surrounding one of their injured sons who was disfigured. This injured young man had had one of his legs amputated, his face was disfigured, not because of the aircraft shelling, but because glass had fallen on him while he was in the hospital after the planes had bombed part of it. The Abdel Latif family approached the Jaradah family to console them, and when they approached the injured man, Mr. Abdel Latif discovered that he was his son and not the son of the Jaradah family. Amid the family controversy, they waited for the wounded man to wake up and say his name so that the Abdel Latif family would take him…
I summarize my letter to you by lifting our suffering to God and to you. Our people in Gaza are treated like animals in a zoo, they eat but remain hungry, they cry, but no one wipes their tears. There is no water, no electricity, no food, but fear, terror and blockade … Yesterday the bakery refused to give me bread. The reason being that the baker refused to feed me with flour that is not worthy of humans so that he will not disrespect my priesthood. The good flour had finished, and what flour he had was inappropriate for human consumption. I have avowed to not eat bread for the duration of this war.
We want you to raise your continuous prayers to God, and not to hold a mass or service without remembering the suffering of Gaza before God. I am sending short messages from the Bible to our parishioners to increase the hope in their hearts. We have all agreed to pray this prayer at the top of every hour: “O Lord of peace rain peace on us, O Lord of peace, grant peace to our land. Have mercy, O Lord, on your people and do not keep us in enmity forever. Please stand with us now and sing this prayer with us.
Your prayers with us move the whole world and teach it that any love that is prevented from reaching your brothers and sisters in Gaza is not the love of Christ and the Church. The love of Christ and the Church does not recognize political and social barriers, wars and so on. When your love reaches us, it makes us feel that we, in Gaza, are an integral part of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, and our Muslim brothers and sisters in our midst are our people and our destiny, we have what they have and we suffer like they do, we are all the people of Palestine.
We in Gaza are steadfast and have resolution in our eyes: “between slavery and death, we have no choice.” We want to live to praise the Lord in Palestine and witness for Christ, we want to live for Palestine, but if death is imposed on us, we will die honest, brave and strong.
Father Manuel Mussallam
Priest of the Catholic Church in Gaza
January 16, 2009