Gaza’s Christians pray they’ll reach Bethlehem
from Ma’an News Agency
Gaza – Ma’an – As pilgrims from across the world descend on the West Bank city of Bethlehem for Christmas, Palestinian Christians trapped in Gaza are left to pray that they will be allowed to attend this year’s celebration.
“Oh Lord of peace, grant our country peace, plant the fruit of love in our hearts and give us freedom … We want to live like everyone else. We pray in this feast that the Palestinian people would reconcile, the siege would be lifted, and we would be able to go to Bethlehem, the birthplace of our Lord.”
These were the prayers sent up by Father George, the pastor of the Latin (Roman Catholic) Church in Gaza. Like 3,000 Gazan Christians, Father George is praying for a permit from the Israeli military to leave Gaza and visit Bethlehem.
He also pointed out that this year Christmas marks the grim one-year anniversary of the Israeli war on Gaza – Operation Cast Lead – which began on 27 December. More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed in the three-week offensive.
He said last Christmas season families stayed at home and prayed amid the explosions. “Our children thought the explosions were Christmas celebrations, but unfortunately it was the massacres. Christmas was so sad a year ago, but hope is there this year to celebrate.”