These acts of betrayal are particularly egregious considering the timing and context. How can these priests face their congregations when they shake hands with the perpetrator of violence against their own community, the demolisher of their churches, and the assailant of their homeland?
Gaza, in the clutches of the occupation, faces extermination, collective punishment, and ethnic cleansing. The once vibrant sound of church bells has fallen silent, and the cherished Christmas tree lighting tradition, including at the Young Men’s Christian Association, has been snuffed out.
Pope Francis, the leader of the Vatican, addressed these dire circumstances in the “Angelus Prayer,” expressing deep concern over the painful and severe news emerging from Gaza. Civilians, he noted, bear the brunt of bombings and shootings, with instances of a mother and her daughter falling victim to snipers even within the Holy Family Parish—where there are no terrorists, only families, children, and vulnerable individuals.
Eyewitnesses report Israeli tanks surrounding the Al-Zaytoun neighborhood targeting anyone moving inside the church compound. This is not the first Christmas marred by occupation for the Christians of Gaza; their joy has been incomplete since 1967, exacerbated by the 17-year siege and repeated aggressions in 2008, 2012, 2014, 2021, and the latest horrific one in 2023.
Military experts have labelled the recent campaign as one of the most bloody and destructive in history. The occupation’s brutal actions, targeting women, children, schools, and hospitals, leave the wounded without treatment and mercilessly execute even those raising white flags in surrender. The world bears witness to the occupier’s brutality.