Amid violence, priest opts to stay with parishioners in Gaza [CNA]

#1 Aires, Argentina, Jul 20, 2014 / 04:03 pm (CNA).- Argentinean priest Father Jorge Hernandez, pastor of Holy Family Parish in the Gaza strip, has decided to stay with his parishioners despite three missile strikes near his parish earlier this week.

“Crime is on the rise. Little children are getting sick from fear, stress, shockwaves and the continuous noise,” he said in an online statement. “Parents are doing everything possible to distract them so that this crude violence does not overwhelm them.”

Since July 7 Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip have fired more than 1,300 rockets on Israel, and the Israelis have responded with nearly 2,000 airstrikes. The recent escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas followed the June kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens and the July 2 killing of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem.

Thousands of Israeli soldiers invaded the Gaza Strip July 17 in an effort to destroy Hamas' weapons arsenals and their tunnels into Israel. Earlier that day, 13 Hamas militants attempted to enter Israel through one tunnel, only to be stopped by an Israeli military strike.

Several days ago, the Missionaries of Charity brought 28 handicapped children and nine women under their care to the parish because they considered it to be a safer place. They all plan to remain in Gaza with Father Hernandez.

The five-hour truce to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip was also a window for hundreds of people to evacuate.

Among those who were told to leave their homes were three Argentinean nuns from the Institute of the Word Incarnate who also work at the parish. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem began permanent Eucharist adoration at the parish and a special Mass “to pray for forgiveness for all, for justice and peace,” was celebrated there on July 16.

Father Hernandez, who is a member of the Institute of the Word Incarnate, provided a testimony of his experience in the Gaza Strip which the institute has published on its website.

“Today, Sunday, we were able to celebrate Holy Mass, thank God, with seven nuns and five brave men. Apart from that, it’s all edifying given the circumstances.”

“I think that so far yesterday was the worst day of this war. The rockets are fired from here nonstop. Various cities near Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are being affected,” the priest said.

“Three days ago the Israeli army ordered the evacuation of residents on the border with Israel. They are distributing fliers and airing spots on radio and TV.  And people are beginning to leave. To where? Anywhere, it doesn’t matter.”

“In practice, before bombing a house, the Israeli army calls on the phone to warn the family to leave. After giving them a certain amount of time, that home is destroyed,” Father Hernandez recounts.

“Nevertheless, Hamas demands that these residents return to their homes. 'There is no need to make room for the Zionist enemy,' they say publicly. We think it is instead to use civilians as human shields.”

“What’s certain is that crime is rising,” the priest noted. “That’s what is happening here.”

Despite this, “we are well,” he added. “There are some people who have thanked us for our presence here. They tell us every once in a while: 'You are not going to abandon us, are you?'”

Full article…


Any Catholic or other Christian who is killed for their faith are the true martyred, unlike those evil Islamists who think they are martyred because they are killed while killing others. My prayers forr t hose brave followers of Jesus Christ.


Hamas has never been man enough, or for that matter man enough to admit that they use civilians as human shields, there is another word for that downright cowardice. Man up.


Argentinean priest Father Jorge Hernandez, pastor of Holy Family Parish in the Gaza strip, has decided to stay with his parishioners despite three missile strikes near his parish earlier this week.

Several days ago, the Missionaries of Charity brought 28 handicapped children and nine women under their care to the parish because they considered it to be a safer place. They all plan to remain in Gaza with Father Hernandez.

When I saw what might be a nun’s habit in this photo, taken at the Church of the Holy Family, I had wondered if the Missionaries of Charity were present.


Im worried about the muslim civilians.its likely they didnt concur to have weapons stashed in their houses,but they didnt have any choice,as hamas is running the gaza strip.i was so applaled seeing israelis having a good time wining and dining on tv (cnn)whilst the palestinians are constantly fearing for their lives 24/7.this is just gross beginning to think that netanyahu is exagerrating the existence of tunnels just to justify their ground operation.he does not care abouth other peoples’ lives,as long as theyre not seems like ,one jewish is equivalent to 1k non jewish lives.


Praying for this true servant of God.


This whole situation is tragic and very dangerous.I grieve for all the innocents.

This article seems to make an odd distinction though: “The recent escalation in violence between Israel and Hamas followed the June kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teens and the July 2 killing of a Palestinian teenager in Jerusalem.” The Palestinian teen was killed yet the Israeli ones were murdered… Is there a difference between killing and murder?


Pope Francis has sent a message to Fr. Hernandez.

Here is an English translation of what was posted on the Institute for the Incarnate Word - Middle East website. It shows the Pope’s message and the reaction of Fr. Hernandez

Here the words of the Holy Father:

Dear Brother:

I received news through Father Mario Cornioli. I am close to you and the sisters and the entire Catholic community. I accompany you with prayer and closeness.
May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin’s care. A hug.

Pope Francisco

I translated it into Arabic and I announced to the parishioners, who were quick to express their gratitude and affection for the Holy Father (even Orthodox) to know its proximity. Laus Deo!

In Domino

Jorge P. Hernandez, IVE

original text )


Praying for the safety of those who are with the Father.


This story reminds me of the movie Of Gods and Men


Your beginning to believe the Islamists propaganda don’t fall for it, after all the Nazi did kill over 6 million Jews so they feel they have to protect themselves, Israel unfortunately always gets bad press, but Islamists can kill Christians, crucify them, burn the Church’s, order them to pay this hideous tax for being a Christian, order them out of the Country where are are feelings now, I do not hear one word of compassion for your fellow Christians, and the disgusting things done in the name of Mohammed.

Get your facts straight, people do have to eat and of course with the bad press CNN will always show the unpleasant side of Israel, have we seen the unpleasant side of the Palestinians on television in England I have not why is that, its the same with the Catholic Church they get all the bad press but not a word about the many Protestant denominations doing things wrong, or the Church of England and the children scandal, no we only hear about the Catholics.- Dont fall into the trap of believing what the papers or news tell you, remember paper does not refuse ink.


It is good for us to be concerned about all of the innocent civilians, in Gaza and outside of Gaza, during this conflict.

The people of Gaza, whether Christian or Muslim, are essentially trapped. The two countries which border Gaza tightly restrict who can leave Gaza. Four years ago, the UK’s prime minister described Gaza as “an open-air prison.” From the description, it sounds as if that situation is unchanged.

Even in what pass for ordinary times here, Israel permits very few Gazans to enter its territory, citing security concerns because suicide bombers and other militants from Gaza have killed Israeli civilians. The restrictions over the years have cost Palestinians jobs, scholarships and travel.

Egypt has also severely curtailed Gazans’ ability to travel, opening its border crossing with the territory for only 17 days this year. During the current fighting between Israel and the Hamas militants who control Gaza, only those with Egyptian or foreign passports or special permission were allowed to exit.

Even the Mediterranean Sea to the west provides no escape. Israel restricts boats from Gaza to three nautical miles offshore. And Gaza, its airspace controlled by Israel, has no airport.

So while three million Syrians have fled their country during the war there, more and more of Gaza’s 1.7 million people have been moving away from the edges of the strip and crowding into the already-packed center of Gaza City.

There is little safe space in Gaza, and yet the people who would be refugees in any other situation, are forced to live through the fighting.


Thank you for this. Praying for Fr. Hernandez and all those who are with him at Church of the Holy Family parish.



I cannot believe the hatred being shown to the suffering Palestinians on this site. I know this is an extreme Rt wing forum but one would have expected perhaps a morsel of sympathy for the children of Palestine. Only when an RC priest is mentioned do some show doubts about the present situation. One can easily see how US has lost all credibility with the other nations. Evil is always evil and should not be excused. Shelling of UN schools & hospitals can never be justified. It is ironic that the Israelis are using the same tactics as the Nazis when they stormed the Warsaw ghetto. Seems we learn nothing for history & are doomed to repeat the horrors in an endless cycle. Please pray for the children of Gaza that they may survive this night & the following nights of terror.


Cromwell, I am sorry you have not been seeing the posts which are sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians, whether they are children or adult. I think most of us, perhaps even all of us, wish for a speedy ceasefire which is coupled with a lasting peace. The people of Gaza have long suffered, even before the bombs started falling. This suffering fosters support for violent extremists, which in turn leads to more suffering. The situation is tragic, and sadly the solution difficult to know or to implement.

Yes, absolutely. Please also pray for a quick and lasting end to such terror.


Of the Christian community in Gaza, 80% are Orthodox. Here is a news story about how they are helping their neighbors:

About 1,000 Palestinian Muslims fleeing Israeli shells devastating their Gaza neighborhood have found shelter in a building they otherwise would rarely if ever enter, the city’s 12th-century Greek Orthodox Church.

“We have opened the church in order to help people. This is the duty of the church and we are doing all we can to help them,” Archbishop Alexios told Reuters as the sounds of small children echoed outside his office at the church.

“At the beginning there were 600 people and today they became a thousand - mostly children and women. Some of those children are a week old,” said the head of Gaza’s Greek Orthodox minority, the largest of the Christian communities here.

“The mosque nearby and the neighbors of the church are all helping. We are still in need of mattresses, blankets, food and most important is petrol, as we suffer blackouts. If there is no electricity we cannot have water also,” said the archbishop.


This news link was shared in a different discussion thread. It concerns the school belonging to the parish which is pastored by Fr. Hernandez.

Holy Family School, run by the Latin Catholic Church, now plays host to 800 refugees bedded down in classrooms and corridors.

Anwar Al-Kitanani, 34, appeared at the gates on Sunday morning along with his four sons and four daughters. Like thousands of other Palestinians, they had fled their home in Shejaiya, the eastern suburb of Gaza City where Israeli forces inflicted the heaviest bombardment of the campaign.

“The man who guards the school called the priest and immediately he said ‘open the school and let them in’. They were very kind to us,” said Mr Kitanani.

Since then, many more families have found refuge inside the school’s solid sandstone building in Gaza City. Whether they are truly safe is doubtful. on Wednesday, the rhythmic boom of incoming artillery fire echoed every few minutes. A few streets away, rockets were suddenly launched towards Israel.

Gaza was a Christian land, said Argentine pastor
Gaza (Palestinian National Authority), 25 Set . 09 (AICA)

This article from a Catholic source is from 2009.
I am posting it because it talks about Father Hernandez beginnings in Gaza and refers to the time Gaza was a Christian land which I found added to my learning about this land and this priest.It is a translation from a Spanish source,but it can be understood. I used Google translate.
Here is how the article ends:

"“We understand -father-Hernandez says in the final part of his report ,that the presence of the Institute of the Incarnate Word in this holy place, in this land of martyrs and saints, is a great grace for the Institute itself and to the whole Church” , and thanks to his superiors, “especially the father Luis Montes, provincial and friend, by the initiative, constant support and encouragement in this mission.” Finally parents thanks EVI of Egypt, the priestly example and selfless dedication to the mission there. "+

God bless you all.


English version.
Hope I am posting the right one now:shrug:

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