- (Photo: AP Images / Muhammed Muheisen)
Citizens in Gaza are all suffering from food shortages, lack of medical care, power outages and a long list of other problems, but a church leader living amid the turmoil says the children are the greatest sufferers of the Gaza-Israel conflict.
“Everybody suffers, but I feel especially bad for the children who are going through a very tough time,” said a Christian church leader to Open Doors USA about the situation in Gaza.
Open Doors is a ministry that supports and works with persecuted churches in areas hostile to Christianity.
“The children wake up several times in the middle of the night; crying or even screaming from fear and memories that come back to their minds,” the church leader, whose name was not released by the ministry, shared.
Children are living in homes where rockets are landing right outside their doors, he noted.
“Many children are traumatized because of previous situations in Gaza,” he said. “They have seen bodies lying on the streets that used to be their playground. Now it is all happening again.”
The Gaza-Israel conflict is in its 12th day with Israel considering to escalate its assault on Gaza by moving its forces deeper into the country and ultimately ending the rocket attacks on Israel, according to Reuters.
During two weeks time, more than 600 Palestinians have died with more than a quarter of those killed being civilians, according to U.N. figures. The current Gaza-Israel fighting is the worst violence the Middle East has seen in decades.
International leaders and bodies have called on Israel to stop its offensive, but the country’s military has continued its attacks.
Many Christian groups have called for a cease-fire, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
ELCA’s presiding bishop the Rev. Mark S. Hanson called on the U.S. government to take a more active role in stopping the conflict on Monday during a news conference in Jordan.
A group of Lutheran leaders are visiting the Middle East for a week-long series of meetings with religious, political and community leaders in Israel and the West Bank in spite of the outbreak in violence.
Hanson called for Israel to remove its troops from Gaza and for Hamas to stop the rocket attacks on civilians in Israel. He also said negotiations must restart for “permanent peace with justice and a two-state solution.”
On Wednesday, both Israel and Hamas agreed to a temporary three-hour pause in fighting to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip.
The humanitarian corridor will let in food and fuel to be distributed to Palestinians.
An estimated 2,500 Christians remain in Gaza and have difficulties leaving the Strip.
The Gaza church leaders commented, “Those in Gaza sometimes have no idea what is going on. Very often the power is down so they have no radio, television or Internet. People call their friends and family outside Gaza to stay updated about the situation in their own city.”
Open Doors USA president/CEO Carl Moeller asks Christians in the West to pray for those in Gaza living amid bombings and ground surge.
“Pray that the war between Israel and Palestine is shorter and less devastating than what military and political speculators around the world are predicting,” Moeller urged. “Pray that Christian families will be reunited. Pray that the Gaza Baptist Church building will be spared more damage from the assault. Pray for all the victims of the violence in Gaza and Israel.”