Crisis in Gaza

A Città Nuova magazine interview with two focolarine experiencing at first hand the start of a new crisis.

Stuck for days under the shelling of the Catholic area of the Gaza Strip, three focolarini were liberated only as a result of intervention by the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the French, Korean and Italian consulates. They managed to get way under escort by a United Nations convoy. This is an interview with two of them who are experiencing at first hand the start of the new crisis.

‘It’s not possible to understand much of what’s happening, nor what people want to achieve. Certainly things are really bad, and the impression is that we’re on the edge of an abyss,’ I was told in a phone call with two focolarine in Jerusalem who had been caught by surprise in the Israeli bombardment while visiting Focolare friends in the Gaza strip.

‘We left on the Wednesday, Corres from Korea, Gérard from France and I, to visit our community,’ says 35 year-old nurse Francesca, living for more than ten years in Jerusalem. ‘We wanted to go there at other times in the last few months, but various circumstances meant the trip was put off. As soon as we arrived, after hearing the deafening explosion, we were told of the death of Hamas’s military leader. From that moment on, except for very brief moments, it was effectively impossible to leave the tiny Christian quarter where we were staying.’

Corres took up the story, ‘We had brought aid collected by the Movement’s friends for our friends in Gaza: clothing, educational material, games for the children, food. We distributed these few things among our Christian friends, in a deeply serene atmosphere. We are witnesses of the generosity of these people, who often when about to receive gifts pointed out other families more in need than they. Despite hearing the bombardment, we can say we were all quite calm. We prayed together, met small groups who wanted news of our community in Israel, Palestine and the world. We played with the children and took tea with young people and adults.’

Francesca spoke again, ‘We stayed on the ground floor of the houses, without any shelter, without siren warnings: because shelters and sirens don’t exist in Gaza. People live in constant danger. We were struck by the faith of these people, their endless hope, so strong that it was they who encouraged us. They showed no fear and kept on saying to us: “We are in God’s hands.” Certainly we could hear the explosions (it was impossible not to!), but we carried on living the normality and simplicity of a life where we are brothers and sisters of one another. We prepared meals for parties, despite everything. One of our friends went as far as the harbour to buy fresh fish for us and one morning they cooked pizza in the oven for our breakfast.’ The most difficult moment was at night when, with each explosion, the windows and the ground shook, as the planes flew overhead of the people in Gaza City.

Of course all three focolarini had registered their presence with the UN who were preparing an expedition to withdraw foreigners from the Gaza Strip. For two days they went to the exit point, but each time there was a problem that stopped them leaving, until a UN convoy was able to escort people away.

Francesca concluded by saying, ‘I brought away with me a picture of those days: we had taken colouring books and paints with us. A boy painted a house under a tree. But at the centre of the house there was a missile. These children have grown up without peace, without calm.’

By Michele Zanzucchi (Source: Città Nuova online)




  1. Odette Asha

    Merci pour cette belle et émouvante histoire que vous avez vécue avec foi et confiance en Dieu. Presqu’à la même période à Goma/RD Congo on vivait aussi la guerre.

    Personnellement, à un certain moment les détonations étaient tellement rapprochées et dans mon quartier, mon cœur n’arrivait plus à supporter, je me suis dit qu’avait fait la population de Goma pour mériter ça.
    Mais avec votre histoire je trouve qu’on n’avait pas vécu les bombardements comme à Gaza et vous gardiez toujours confiance en Dieu.

    Prions ensemble pour que les enfants de l’Est de la RD Congo et du Gaza qui grandissent sans connaitre la paix et la sérénité puissent un jour vivre dans la paix, une vrai paix, une paix durable…..

  2. Ivone C

    Recomeço com todo empenho a rezar e oferecer tudo pel paz, mas sobretudo pedindo a fé, a força e a coragem para esses povos que vivem em guerra. Eu nunca experimentei uma vida assim e é por essas experiencias que imagino a grande dor. Jesus morreu pedindo a Unidade. Vamos continuar a viver o Amor para merecê-la.

  3. silla

    Esta entrevista, como a anterior com o jovem da Síria, nos lembra que somos irmãos, que cada um daqueles que sofrem é um de nós, parte da nossa família… vivemos por eles e com eles.

    • Anny Keymeulen

      Siete eroi, radicali nel vivere il Vangelo e Dio vi ha salvati tramite tutte quelle persone. E quanti vivono e sono di esempio a tutti noi che ancora viviamo nella pace. Preghiamo intensamente perchè la pace ritorni! con tutto il nostro cuore Mariapoli Piero – Kenya

  4. Giuseppina Bischof

    Per nove anni mio marito ed io ci siamo dedicati ad aiutare i nostri di Terra Santa. Conosciamo bene i e le focolarine e molti della famiglia dei Focolari. Questo mi fa sentire profondamente il dolore che questa guerra provoca.Prego con tutta me stessa il Signore per una rapidissima pace e che tutto il mondo senta come sia importante unire tutte le forze in favore della pace. Se le coscienze saranno toccate dalla assurdità della guerra nel Paese di Gesù, Salvatore di tutti indistintamente,Dio saprà suscitare da questo immenso dolore una nuova fioritura.
    Grazie di aver pubblicato questa notizia. Giuseppina


Related News