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Israeli Catholics wish for peace

· Children speak of fear of bombs and the wish for normalcy ·

“The people are very saddened and shocked by the many victims on both sides. During the Mass we remembered them and prayed for all those who are suffering”. These are the words of Fr Gioele Salvaterra, priest in Be'er Sheva, a small Israeli town not far from the Gaza Strip. “What we can do”, he continued’ “is pray that the violence ends and that the soldiers can return home safe and sound”.

These days there are many Israelis praying for the end of hostilities. From the city of Haifa, the local Catholic community recorded a video and composed a song asking for peace. Meanwhile in Be'er Sheva, one of the cities hardest hit by rocket fire, Israeli Catholics share, as citizens, in the pain of the war and mourn as the list of the dead grows longer each hour. Moreover, many families living in Be'er Sheva are comprised of Arab Christians from Galilee. Women and children, after the first week of war, fled to their home villages, while husbands and fathers remained in the city to work.

There are those who can already tell what it is like to live in a situation of war. Already in the first days of the conflict, teenaged siblings Salma and Habib said they “did not want another war”, stating that their plans for summer vacation, only just begun, had been quite different. For them it is the third war in the last six years, without taking into consideration the occasional rockets fired between one military offensive and another. Their parents are also very concerned about what is happening, especially when their children are out of the house, on the street: they stay in constant contact by telephone and text messaging.

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St. Peter’s Square

Aug. 20, 2019

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