“Right now, we have only God”

Sister Nabila calls for peace and aid in war-torn Gaza

Gaza City, Königstein (Germany) – Sister Nabila, a religious sister of the Holy Rosary, who has been taking refuge in the Holy Family Parish in Gaza with 700 other Christians, has made a heartfelt plea for peace and urgent humanitarian aid in the midst of the ongoing conflict.

Sr. Nabila with pupils on the schoolyard - at the Rosary Sisters School of Gaza.
Sr. Nabila with pupils on the schoolyard – at the Rosary Sisters School of Gaza, which has been damaged.

In a recent telephone conversation with the international charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Sister Nabila expressed deep concern for around 100 traumatized children who are housed in the parish complex and who have known nothing but war throughout their lives. “We just want peace, peace. We have had six wars in Gaza. Children only know war,” she lamented. Despite the dire circumstances, Sister Nabila remains resilient, believing that “staying busy and helping others is the best way to cope with the devastation”.

The Holy Family Parish has been providing aid and shelter to wounded and displaced Christians affected by the ongoing violence over the past two weeks, most of whom have lost their houses. Along with another six religious sisters and a Catholic priest, Sister Nabila has been working tirelessly to support the community during these challenging times.

The situation in Gaza remains extremely worrying. The community in Holy Family parish currently have no electricity or running water. They have resorted to using water from the well to drink – though they fear it could run dry at any time – and mineral water that they purchase is three times the original price.

A drop in the ocean

The opening of the border with Egypt has brought a glimmer of hope for aid, but Sister Nabila and the Christian community are uncertain if the much-needed assistance will reach the northern region, where they remain.

According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, the recent aid deliveries, consisting of around 20 trucks a day, are considered just a drop in the ocean. This is far from sufficient, as the Ministry urgently requires 500 trucks daily to address the significant depletion of essential medical supplies.

Completely empty shopping street in Muristan, in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem, near the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City
Completely empty shopping street in Muristan, in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem, near the Holy Sepulcher in the Old City during the COVID lockdown.

The sisters and the staff are doing everything in their power to ensure that each individual receives what he or she urgently needs, but resources are limited, and the situation is getting worse by the day, especially after refugees relocated to the parish after the Greek Orthodox compound was struck by an explosion that killed 18 people. There are now almost 700 faithful, including 100 children, 50 persons with disabilities, and some of those who were wounded in the Greek Orthodox compound and are receiving medical treatment.

Among those killed in the bombing of the Greek Orthodox compound is a teacher from Sister Nabila’s school, as well as her entire family, and other children who had been attending the parish catechesis.

Holy Mass is celebrated twice a day, and people constantly pray the Rosary, seeking peace through the intercession of the Virgin Mary and God.

“We will not abandon this Christian mission”

In a joint statement, the Patriarchs and Heads of the Churches in Jerusalem emphasized the unwavering commitment of the churches “to fulfilling our sacred and moral duty of offering assistance, support, and refuge to those civilians who come to us in such desperate need”.

Despite military demands to evacuate charitable institutions and houses of worship, the churches have refused: “We will not abandon this Christian mission, for there is literally no other safe place for these innocents to turn”. They call upon the international community to “enforce protections in Gaza for sanctuaries of refuge, such as hospitals, schools, and houses of worship”, and urge an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” to ensure the safe delivery of essential supplies to the displaced civilians.

The sisters made the imperative and pressing decision to build a shelter on their school premises. This shelter will serve as a refuge for their nuns during times of conflict, ensuring their safety and well-being.
The sisters made the imperative and pressing decision to build a shelter on their school premises. This picture was taken in September 2023.

Sister Nabila’s words echo the sentiments of the local community, which is yearning for an end to the cycle of violence and suffering after almost two weeks locked up in the parish complex. “Peace, peace, we want just peace. There is so much evil, so much suffering. It’s terrible. Right now, we only have God”, she said.

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