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War has become ‘a way of life’ for Gazans, according to Holy Land Franciscan priest

WAR “is a way of life” for those living in the Holy Land, that is according to a Franciscan priest living in the Holy Land.

On Tuesday, Israeli forces deployed tanks to northern areas of the Gaza Strip and carried out airstrikes in Rafah, located in the southern part of the territory. These actions resulted in several casualties, according to local officials.

The ongoing Israeli military actions in Gaza have resulted in the deaths of over 33,000 Palestinians, state local health officials, and have pushed a third of Gaza’s population to the verge of starvation.

This escalation followed an attack by Hamas on October 7, which claimed the lives of approximately 1,200 people in Israel.

“The Holy Land has been at war for almost seven months,” said Franciscan Father Ibrahim Faltas, Vicar of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land.

“It is a way of life, or rather an obligation to live the evil of war that no one can get used to,” he told Agenzia Fides.

“About two million people experience the suffering of lack of everything. These are people who will experience. The famine, the lack of care, the lack of dignity in 2024,” he said.

Over the weekend, Iran carried out what is thought to be its first direct assault on Israel, launching more than 300 drones and missiles.

Israel and its allies, including the United States, successfully intercepted nearly all the incoming weapons. Despite the high interception rate, a 7-year-old girl was seriously hurt, and a military base incurred minor damage from the few weapons that penetrated the defense system.

According to Fr Faltas, the attack instilled a sense of fear and despair across the Holy Land.

“It was an attack that was unfortunately expected and once again brought the sounds and lights of violence to the Holy Land. Every people has the right to live in security, and in this constant game of violence and power, it is the most defenseless who suffer the tragic consequences of war,” the Franciscan told the Italian news service.

“On the night between Saturday and Sunday, who could have had the strength to hope? Fear and despair do not let you sleep, they cast their shadows over the future. Children, in particular, are frightened and do not understand the absurd and reckless game played by adults,” he said.

“I’m trying to understand the reasons of both sides. I don’t always succeed. I cannot justify the continued use of violence and hatred that destroys the lives of innocent people,” the priest added.

On Sunday, Pope Francis said he was following “in prayer and with concern, even pain,” the news about the Iranian attack of Israel.

“I make a heartfelt appeal to halt any action that might fuel a spiral of violence, with the risk of dragging the Middle East into an even greater military conflict,” the pope said.

“No one should threaten the existence of others. May all the nations instead take the side of peace, and help Israelis and Palestinians live in two States, side by side, in safety. It is their deep and legitimate desire, and it is their right: Two neighboring States,” he continued.

“Let there be a ceasefire in Gaza soon, and let us pursue the paths of negotiation, with determination. Let us help that population, plunged into a humanitarian catastrophe; let the hostages kidnapped months ago be released! So much suffering! Let us pray for peace. No more war, no more attacks, no more violence! Yes to dialogue and yes to peace!” Francis said.

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