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3/9/2014 - Israel - The end of the war between Gaza and Israel: Situation and Prospects

(ANS - Jerusalem) - ANS reports the story of a Salesian of the Middle East on the situation between Palestine and Israel at the end of this latest hostilities. The method of the Salesians and the style of Don Bosco that focuses on reason, religion and loving kindness, make inroads into the hearts of young Arabs, both Christians and Muslims.

The situation

Finally the hostilities between Gaza and Israel is over. It lasted 50 days, from July 8 to August 26. But this is already the third of 2014 that broke out in a few years, and this makes a lot to think about. The first war was in 2008-2009 (December 27 to January 18); the second in 2012 (November 14 to 21). This third war was not only the longest but also the bloodiest and most disastrous. Gaza counting its victims: 2,143 dead, including 490 children, and many women, and also about 11,000 were wounded, including 3,000 children.

The displaced are over 500 thousand, over 20,000 buildings were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable . For the reconstruction the cost will take about € 4.5 billion. And for the more immediate humanitarian aid (food, water, medicine, electricity ...) it will require more than € 200 million. Even Israel mourns for its 70 dead, including 6 civilians and among them a child. To counter and intercept rockets fired from the Gaza Strip (from where a rain of 3,700 rockets were fired) and to destroy its extensive network of underground tunnels, Israel has fired 3,700 missiles by launching a military operation called "Protective Edge"

Will it take more spilled blood to appease the sentiments and to lead the opposing parties in a real dialogue? For now, thanks to Egyptian mediation, it has come to a truce agreement of unlimited“ceasefire”(as long as neither party the breaks it), with the intention of coming again together next month at a round table of talks and negotiations. The two main demands of these two parties will certainly be contested: Israel calls for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip; Gaza wants a port, an airport, and more possibility of movement for its citizens.

There are already small concessions in effect, such as the reopening of the crossing into Israel for the sick, the traders and the Palestinians with special permits; the reduction of the exclusion zone for the farmers of Gaza close to the border, and the expansion of the fishing zone in the Mediterranean Sea.

The Salesians in the Holy Land during the last war

There are five Salesian presences in the Holy Land: 3 in Israel (Jerusalem, Nazareth and Beit Gemal) and 2 in Palestine (Bethlehem and Cremisan). Similarly there are 4 presences of the Daughters of Mary Help of FMA: 2 in Israel (Jerusalem and Nazareth) and two in Palestine (Bethlehem and Cremisan). The distance between our presences and the centres of conflict are more or less great, to the extent that our presences have not suffered any material damage to their works and none of their students were directly hit.

Of course everyone, some more than others, were affected by the general situation, in solidarity with the population tested by this conflict. In particular, several groups of pilgrims and/or study tours that had already planned their trips and were also contact with us, have been cancelled, given the emergency situation.

We have prayed for peace in so many ways, prayer being the only weapon at our disposal. In our presences, all frequented by Arabs, both Christians and Muslims (the Jews go to their own institutions), we educate young people and the teachers in the spirit of peace, in all its nuances. It is not easy, especially in situations like these, but the Salesian method and style of Don Bosco that is based on reason, religion and loving kindness, make inroads into the hearts of young people.

Posted on 09/03/2014

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