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Franciscan Priest in the Holy Land Describes War as a Perpetual Reality

Warfare in Gaza has become a “way of life,” as described by a Franciscan clergyman in the Holy Land.

Reports from local officials indicated that on Tuesday, Israel deployed tanks to areas in the northern Gaza Strip, while warplanes carried out strikes on Rafah in the southern region, resulting in casualties among the populace.

The ongoing Israeli military campaign in Gaza has led to the deaths of more than 33,000 Palestinians, according to local health authorities, pushing one-third of Gaza’s residents to the brink of starvation.

The offensive was launched in retaliation to an attack by Hamas on Israel on Oct. 7, claiming approximately 1,200 lives.

Franciscan Father Ibrahim Faltas, who serves as the Vicar of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, remarked, “The Holy Land has been engulfed in conflict for nearly seven months.” He emphasized that the enduring state of war has imposed a grim reality on the inhabitants, characterized by deprivation and suffering.

The recent assault by Iran, involving a barrage of over 300 drones and missiles directed at Israel, marked a significant escalation. While most of the projectiles were intercepted, some managed to cause harm, including severe injuries to a 7-year-old girl and minor damage to a military installation.

Father Faltas expressed deep concern over the repercussions of such attacks, stating that fear and despair have gripped the Holy Land once again. He underscored the right of every individual to live in security, condemning the cycle of violence that disproportionately affects the vulnerable.

Reflecting on the escalating conflict, Father Faltas lamented the increasing use of advanced weaponry and the failure of international efforts to broker peace in the region. He highlighted the unfulfilled UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Gaza and the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Pope Francis also issued a plea for peace, urging restraint and dialogue to prevent further escalation of hostilities. He emphasized the need for a two-state solution, emphasizing the legitimate aspirations of both Israelis and Palestinians for security and coexistence.

Father Faltas echoed the Pope’s calls for peace, emphasizing the urgency of halting retaliatory actions and pursuing diplomatic resolutions. He urged all parties to heed the plea for an immediate ceasefire and work towards a lasting peace settlement.

In solidarity with Pope Francis, Father Faltas implored for an end to the cycle of violence and retribution, advocating for a concerted effort towards reconciliation and the well-being of all affected by the conflict.