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A Glimpse into the Daily Routine of Christian Palestinians in Gaza

America reached out to to inquire about the well-being of Gaza’s small Christian community amidst the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, now in its fifth month, while Israeli forces tightened their grip around Rafah. George Anton, the administrative director of the Caritas Medical Center in Gaza, promptly responded via email.

Mr. Anton, along with his wife and three daughters, along with numerous other Christian families in Gaza, sought refuge at the Holy Family Church in Gaza City. In the initial stages of the conflict, the Caritas team managed to transfer essential supplies and equipment from the medical center to establish basic clinics at both the Holy Family and the Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius church compounds.

What are the daily struggles like in these challenging circumstances?

Our days are fraught with anxiety and the cacophony of shelling in one area, incursions in another, and bombardments all around. The constant worry revolves around procuring food and water.

Basic necessities such as fruits, vegetables, rice, pasta, milk, flour, and fuel are scarce in the markets. Each day is dedicated to strategizing how to obtain these essentials, closely monitoring updates to identify which Caritas team member can offer assistance or continue their duties at the medical center.

The battle for sustenance is draining, with shortages across the board. Nutritious food is a luxury we can’t afford, and our medical supplies and vitamins have been depleted.

Only a handful can work in these conditions, primarily those involved in submitting situation reports and other professionals. Despite the challenges, committed Caritas Jerusalem staff continue their tireless efforts in setting up clinics, labs, and carrying out maintenance work.

This is the rhythm of our days during this period of conflict, marked by stress and uncertainty.

How are families and children coping with the day-to-day challenges?

The struggle for survival is relentless, with shortages prevalent in every aspect of life. Nutritious food is a rarity, and essential medications and vitamins are in short supply. The blockade imposed by the I.D.F. exacerbates the situation, with the limited aid that trickles in often falling into the hands of thieves who sell it at exorbitant prices in the market.

A can of beans that used to cost two shekels now fetches 10 shekels, while the price of milk has surged from 12 to 45 shekels. The soaring prices have created immense hardships, even for those fortunate enough to retain their jobs. Accessing funds is a challenge, with many A.T.M.s damaged due to shelling, and internet restrictions impeding bank account access.

Describing our ordeal accurately is beyond words, but this is our daily reality. The market may offer some clothing items, but warm attire is a luxury of the past. People are left homeless in the harsh winter conditions.

The situation is far graver than what is portrayed on screens. Life in Gaza is in ruins, with no safe havens for people. Shelter centers are no longer secure, as Israeli military raids indiscriminately target these places, resulting in casualties and forced displacements.

The systematic destruction has wiped out shops, pharmacies, and businesses, leaving behind a bleak landscape. This is the grim reality we face.

Will the members of Gaza’s Christian community choose to remain post-conflict?

Despite being somewhat removed from the immediate conflict, as Palestinians, we are steadfast in our commitment to our homeland, resisting the notion of mass exodus, even though it crosses the minds of many Christians.

Our message as Christians centers on peace. We urge both sides to engage in sincere negotiations to halt the bloodshed.

While some contemplate leaving after the war, a significant number of us reject this idea. We are Palestinians, deeply rooted in this land, and we refuse to let our churches turn to ashes amidst the chaos of war. Preserving the Christian presence in Palestine is our unwavering resolve. This land is our home, and we will remain here.

A message for politicians in Israel and the United States

Our plea, as Christians, echoes the call for peace. We implore both sides to earnestly seek a resolution to end the cycle of violence. War and conflict only breed further discord, and it is imperative for both parties to realize that innocent lives, including ours as Christians, are ensnared in the midst of political turmoil without any direct involvement.