Some thoughts about the Gaza Strip

Czeslaw Ryszka

The Israeli army carries out extermination of the Palestinian nation in the Gaza Strip in the eyes of the world – this is the way the war in this region of Palestine is commented on in the world. The Israeli soldiers shoot at literally all movable targets, direct the barrels and shoot rockets at all places where the Hamas fighters can be. It does not matter whether it is a school or hospital. That’s why every fifth victim of this conflict is a child. Furthermore, among the several thousands of wounded people there are mainly civilians. The doctors’ words depict a horrifying picture: wounded people with terrible hurts are lying literary everywhere; they die before any help can be provided. Perhaps the members of Hamas use civilians as the so-called living targets because one of the private Israeli television stations placed a film in the Internet showing a Hamas fighter shooting at the soldiers and hiding himself behind an accidentally encountered child. Those who made pilgrimages to the Holy Land recently must have been horrified to see the eight metre high wall that surrounds Bethlehem (such a wall isolates the Jews and the Palestinians along the West Bank). What was the real reason of those who built it? According to the Israeli politicians the wall is to protect them against the terrorists’ attacks. But actually a ghetto, a kind of prison, was built. Those people who had their houses, families, achievements of their lives there were brutally oppressed. This justifies in some way the military activities of Hamas. When the wall was built the world was silent. Neither the UN nor the EU claimed human rights then. What will happen now? Will the world look at the fight between Goliath and David with difference? Assuredly no because the EU delegation headed by the Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Karel Schwarzenberg went to the Middle East. The French President Nicolas Sarkozy is also there and together with the Egyptian President Hosni Murabak he presented the conflicting parties a proposal to cease fire immediately. There are provisional agreements: armistice for several hours to let the humanitarian help reach the civilian victims of the conflict. Poland is not indifferent. In his statement issued on 4 January 2009 President Lech Kaczynski expressed his anxiety about the growing conflict in the Gaza Strip. He wrote, ‘With all my power do I appeal to both fighting parties to solve the conflict peacefully and stop the acts of violence immediately. I am convinced that only cessation of military actions, dialogue and diplomatic means can lead to a real stabilisation of the situation and permanent peace in the Middle East… I anxiously receive the information about the increasing number of victims and wounded that suffered in the fighting. At the same time Poland declares readiness to join the humanitarian action for the harmed civilians.’ But the second important person in our country the Speaker of the Parliament Bronislaw Komorowski stated that ‘Poland should not toe the line …we have not had any national interests that would justify some special role and special sacrifice of Poland there.’ Whereas Mr Ryszard Kalisz, an MP, thinks that ‘Poles and Poland should act in the European Union to take a stand that will end the conflict because civilians are being killed there. Today it does not actually matter who is right. Undoubtedly, Hamas is a terrorist organisation but unquestionably in the small territory, the size of Bialystok, there are one million and a half people and as the result of the Israeli actions civilians are simply killed.’ The question is: what should Poland do? I think that leaving the question whether we have interests in this region or not we should – like the President did – express our deep anxiety about the increasing conflict in the Gaza Strip. Speaking briefly, the important countries and international organisations should do their best to bring about a cease-fire, to begin dialogue and lead to a real stabilisation and permanent peace in the Middle East. I want to remind you that most countries establish diplomatic relationships with Israel, the world supports the Israel’s right to exist; so why do not this world and Israel recognise the right of the Palestinian state to exist, to recognise the Palestinians’ rights to their own territory? Hamas, using terror, fights for the existence of the Palestinian state! Israel should allow to establishing the Palestinian state because it is easier to conduct negotiations with an existing state than with some organisation that is less or more terrorist.

If the war lasts longer the long standing conflict will be intensified in this region of the world and the relationships of the two cultural circles: Islam and the West, which are not very good now, will get worse. Will this civilisational conflict assume some military form one day? Even now radical Islam in some countries is directed against Christianity. There are countries where people who have a copy of the Bible or a cross face death penalty. Fearing persecutions most Palestinian Christians have already left the Holy Land; they fled from Bethlehem! Because of the war various thoughts are born. If so many innocent children are killed one can hardly accept the explanation that the aim is to eliminate the terrorist threat. Therefore – I would like not to believe it – the activities of the Israeli army in the Gaza Strip are indirectly some kind of encouragement for the Arab world to a total war against Christianity. It is also a provocation towards Iran to officially become involved on the Palestinian side so that Iran could be attacked with the help of the United States. May I be wrong!

Caritas helps the victims in the Gaza Strip

As a gesture of solidarity with the victims of the military conflict in the Gaza Strip Caritas Polska transferred Caritas Jerusalem 20,000 USD for relief for the harmed. Individuals and institutions that want to help the harmed civilians can transfer money to the following account:

Skwer Kard. Wyszynskiego 9
01-015 Warszawa
Bank PKO BP S.A. 70 1020 1013 0000 0102 0002 6526
Bank Millennium S.A. 77 1160 2202 0000 0000 3436 4384, with the note: ZIEMIA SWIETA

Donations in foreign currencies can be transferred to the following account:
Bank Millennium S.A., al. Jerozolimskie 133, 02-304 Warszawa
in euros (EUR): PL 23 1160 2202 0000 0000 3436 4677
in American dollars (USD): PL 57 1160 2202 0000 0000 6663 1212
In British pounds (GBP): PL 36 1160 2202 0000 0000 7232 7236, with the note: ZIEMIA SWIETA

More information: Caritas Polska, Skwer Kard. Stefana Wyszynskiego 9, 01-015 Warszawa, phone. +48-22-334-85-00, phone. +48-22- -334-85-85, fax +48-22-334-85-58

"Niedziela" 3/2009

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: