News / Middle East

Hundreds of Displaced Palestinians Shelter in Gaza Church

Hundreds of Displaced Muslims Shelter in Gaza Churchi
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Scott Bobb
August 07, 2014 6:32 PM
Relief agencies are struggling to help nearly one-half million people in Gaza who have been displaced by the month-long conflict between Israel and Hamas-led fighters. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports some have taken refuge in a Christian church in Gaza City.
Scott Bobb

Relief agencies are struggling to help nearly one-half million people in Gaza who have been displaced by the month-long conflict between Israel and Hamas-led fighters.  Some have taken refuge in a Christian church in Gaza City.
 
The Archdiocese of Gaza’s Greek Orthodox Church has become a place of refuge for 800 Muslims who fled their homes during the Israeli-Hamas conflict.
 
Hayat al-Bahtety left her house in al-Shejayia with 23 family members during the first week of fighting.
 
“The rockets were coming down like heavy rain.  We ran out into the street.  We did not know where to go.  We were just running," said al-Bahtety.
 
Mohammed Khalaf has been here with 30 family members for three weeks.
 
“We went to U.N. schools.  We found all the schools were full.  Then we came to the church, and the father of the church welcomed us and opened the church for us," said Khalaf.

  • An Israeli soldier gestures from atop a tank after crossing the border back into Israel. Israel pulled its ground forces out of the Gaza Strip at the start of a 72-hour ceasefire with Hamas, Aug. 5, 2014. 
  • Palestinians sit on the remains of their destroyed homes after returning to Beit Hanoun, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, in the northern Gaza Strip, Aug. 5, 2014. 
  • An Israeli soldier from the Nahal Brigade carries his weapon after returning to Israel from Gaza, Aug. 5, 2014. 
  • Palestinians look at destroyed houses after returning to the Shejaia neighborhood, which witnesses said was heavily hit by Israeli shelling and air strikes during the Israeli offensive, east of Gaza City, Aug. 5, 2014. 
  • Israeli soldiers fire a mortar shell towards the Gaza Strip, near the Israel - Gaza border, Aug. 4, 2014. 
     
  • Mohammed al-Bakri brings the body of his three-year-old son Kamal to the boy's wounded mother, Dua, at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, Aug. 5, 2014. 
  • Relatives take the bodies of four Palestinians, who relatives say were killed in a missile strike, from the hospital for burial, in Beit Lahiya, Gaza Strip, Aug. 4, 2014.
  • Smoke rises over Gaza City after an Israeli strike, minutes before 8 am (0500 GMT), the time agreed for a preliminary 72-hour cease-fire, on Aug. 5, 2014. 


Heads of families registered for aid they know they will need for weeks to come.  In addition to those living here, the church is helping 1,600 others living on the streets outside.
 
They go to the mosque next door only to pray.  They fear that it could be bombed like dozens of others.  Staying in the church does not bother Khalaf.
 
“The Christiajn, the Muslim are almost one religion. We are one people.  There is no difference," he said.
 
Most Gazans feel the same way, says Rania al-Helo, whose Anera group is providing assistance to these people.
 
“This brotherhood, this strong bond between Muslims and the Christians has been [there] throughout the years and throughout the history of Gaza," said al-Helo.
 
This solidarity will be needed in coming months as all Gazans try to recover from the devastation of war.

 

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Comment Sorting
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by: t howard from: usa
August 07, 2014 4:03 PM
If is kind of like the Muslim people in America who don't speak about the hate their religion translates into.

The people of GAZA need to quit harboring, hiding and promoting Hamas, quit sending rockets into GAZA, and then the bombing will stop!

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