This morning was an uncommonly quiet morning walking through the souk of the Old City. By the time Church is over and I’m walking home, usually the stalls are open and the merchant’s wares are displayed and hung, just waiting for the first customer of the day. Today was different. Today the shops were closed. Most of the shopkeepers are Arab and they have not opened their doors in protest and solidarity with the worsening situation in Gaza. There is increased IDF and police presence in the Old City. As I understand it, the shops in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank are also closed. People are on edge.
Over the past few days there has been intensification of the Palestinian – Israeli conflict and between Fatah and Hamas. You’ve probably heard about it in the news with different reports. Ashkelon, on the coast, is on red alert after Kassam rockets have hit. Ashkelon is 17 km from Gaza. While it is not close to Jerusalem the missiles are heading farther into Israel. Which, is extremely worrisome. In the Western Negev 20 Kassam rockets and a Grad missile have landed. In addition Sderot, who has been under constant missile attack from Gaza, continues to suffer and people are suffering from trauma of the daily barrage.
In the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza an arms facility was targeted and the number of deaths and injured are close to 100. The hospitals in Gaza are overloaded with wounded. Hamas, the militant Palestinian Islamic movement, has addressed Abu Mazen, the Palestinian Prime Minister and leader of Fatah, stating that there will be no Fatah in Gaza, only the policy of Hamas. Peace talks have been suspended for now as I understand it on all fronts.
In this time of unrest and violence, not only here but around the globe, we must work and pray for peace and hope to end the chaos and despair. Let us keep our eyes fixed on the pain and suffering of all of the people here in this place we call holy. But, let us also envision a future where there is no more pain and suffering. Perhaps it can be so. Really, it has to be so!