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Christians in the Gaza Strip

This morning, I traveled to Jordan for a series of meetings.  While in Jordan, I received a communication from Canon Andrew White.  We have worked closely with Andrew on a variety of religious freedom issues in the Middle East.  As you can see from the following report, Andrew is heavily involved in the situation in the Gaza Strip in Israel.  I thought it would be good to post his report so that you can get a sense of the difficulty that Christians in the Gaza Strip area are having in light of the Hamas takeover. 

 

The rest of Israel is actually quite calm, and the Gaza Strip and West Bank appear to be the flashpoints right now. 

 

The following are excerpts from Andrew Whites report, information focusing on the

current situation for Christians in the Gaza Strip:

 

      From:         Foundation for Relief and Reconciliation in the Middle East 

      Date:          Tue, 19 Jun 2007 05:36:49

      Subject:      Iraq and Gaza Urgent Appeal


My Dear Friends,
 
The situation in Iraq and Gaza is more than urgent. Whilst Philip is in Gaza [see report below], I have just returned from Iraq. I am used to seeing bad things and carnage, but what I have witnessed in the past month is like nothing I have ever seen before.
 
I wanted to send you some pictures taken last week, but my staff rightly told me they were too awful to send. If they are too awful to send they are too awful to describe. The death, carnage and kidnappings are indescribable. What is so awful, though, is the suffering of the ordinary Christians. In the past month, the suffering has become immense. Christians have been ousted from their homes, have lost all their savings, they have been threatened and have undergone a targeted campaign to bring about death, kidnapping and removal from their homes.
 
The needs of the Christians in Baghdad are immense. There are hundreds of Christians now sleeping on church floors and people are going hungry. Last week as I tried to leave church, I was surrounded by people in tears. They had no money for food, medical treatment or simply the most basic things in life. In the burning heat, people cannot even buy water; and the taps often have no water so people are driven to drink unclean river water. Pete and I emptied all the money from our own bank accounts before we went to Iraq, just for the church; we returned with nothing and could not even begin to meet the demands. We have therefore decided to ask you for help for the Christians in Iraq and Gaza. In Iraq we do not just want to help people from our own church of St. George.  Please pray about whether you can help us in this present crisis. Thank you for your consideration.
 
Grace, Peace and Blessings,
 
Andrew White
 

People are thinking of how to spend the summer vacation; we are thinking of how to stockpile food, said Rana Al Najjar, a member of the Gaza Baptist Church as she made a trip to the shop on Saturday afternoon to buy what food was still available. After a turbulent week in which Fatah forces were routed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, streets were relatively back to normal on Saturday, until reports started to spread that the borders would be sealed and people started scrambling to get a hold of the basic needs of bread, sugar, flour and gas. Prices rose quickly, as shops quickly ran out of their stockpiled goods. In bakeries customers were given a number to wait in line and were limited in the amount of bread they were permitted to purchase. Cars were moving about, people were walking the streets, talking and laughing. Along the walls of the main hospital in town, I saw old men sitting in the shade playing backgammon. The combination of the normalcy of life and fear of the unknown future make for a strange atmosphere. Yet, the greatest fear is for the poor, for they cannot afford the rising prices and many go home empty-handed.

 

      The World Food Program reported in March that 80% of the Gaza Strip is reliant on food aid from international organizations. Help us raise $10,000 in order to bring food to those that cannot afford rising prices and are unable to provide for their families. Please do not forget that there are Christians here too, and we must stand with our forgotten brothers and sisters in their time of real need. 

 

      Philip Rizk
 

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