Caritas Jerusalem Director Appeals to Pope to Hold Prayer Vigil

Asks That It Be Dedicated to the Holy Land

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The director of Caritas Jerusalem has launched an appeal to Pope Francis to hold a prayer vigil for the Holy Land, as was done for Syria and Iraq earlier this month.

Father Raed Abusahliah said he is hoping that next Saturday and Sunday could serve as the occasion, Fides reported Tuesday.

This weekend, the faithful in all the parishes of Jordan, Palestine and Israel will pray for the restoration of peace and fundraise on behalf of the people of Gaza.

«In this regard,” Fr. Raed said, “I launch a humble appeal to Pope Francis: may you convene a vigil of prayer and fasting for peace in the Holy Land, as you did for Syria.”

Based on the conviction that “nothing is impossible for him who believes,” the Vatican held an evening prayer vigil for peace in Syria and Iraq on July 4 which welcomed many Catholics from throughout Rome, as well as Vatican senior officials. A gesture similar to this, the priest of Ramallah believes, would be a comfort to “all the people who inhabit this land, the land of Jesus,” who are “tired of living in fear and pain.»

Along with Caritas Internationalis, Caritas Jerusalem has launched another appeal for projects and long-term initiatives to be started immediately following the cease-fire. Fr Raed said they are looking for funds of over one million euro.

Almost 1,300 Palestinians, the vast majority of whom are Muslims, have taken shelter in the Greek Orthodox church of Saint Porphyrius in Gaza in order to escape the bombing of the Israeli army. Seven hundred others have found refuge in the Holy Family Catholic Church in Gaza.

Since the beginning of the Israeli military «Protective Edge» operation, more than 130,000 people have been displaced, of whom 70,000 are gathered in UN schools. So far, over 700 Palestinians have died. Adding to this, healthcare facilities in the Gaza Strip are unable to cope with many casualties totalling more than 4,000.

In these days, the survival of these people depends mainly on the efforts of rescue and assistance carried out by Caritas Jerusalem.

The Israeli military has defended its actions on the grounds that the Palestinian militant group Hamas has been firing rockets at Israel from schools and hospitals, thereby using innocent civilians as human shields.

“In that terrible situation, our 18 operators are working tirelessly with our mobile medical centers that operate in schools and distribute survival kits to families massed in schools, in collaboration with the United Nations,» Fr. Raed said.

He added they are currently responsible for taking care of the refugees present in the Orthodox Church and the Catholic school. «We distribute food and hot meals, milk and basic necessities for the children, fuel for electric generators,” he said. (D.C.L.)

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