Palestinian citizens are living in “hell” in Gaza, a priest from the territory said as he called for a “necessary” ceasefire during a trip to Glasgow.

Father Gabriel Romanelli, Gaza’s only Catholic parish priest, is in Scotland to share the plight of his congregation in the Middle East.

He has been unable to attend Holy Family Parish in Gaza since October 7, when Hamas launched its attacks in Israel. He was in Bethlehem, in the Israel-occupied West Bank, at the time trying to source medicine for a nun and has been denied re-entry so far.

However he has been in regular contact with the more than 700 displaced people taking refuge in his church.

The church was damaged slightly by shrapnel from strikes in the vicinity in December, and since Israel began its retaliation for the Hamas attacks, Father Gabriel said 32 Palestinian Christians have died, while others have fled the country, meaning the congregation has shrunk by 25%.

Speaking to the PA news agency on Friday, he said: “I come to Glasgow with only a simple message: I am the parish priest of the only Catholic church in the Gaza Strip of Palestine – to ask everyone to (do) anything to stop this war.”

He said a ceasefire is “necessary”, adding: “The ceasefire is not the solution but it is one necessary step to restart dialogue between the parties.


The Herald:


“The situation is terrible. From the terrible October 7 attacks, and also before, but especially from October 7, the situation is horrible.

“Gaza is a hell – almost hell – almost 34,000 killed there in spite of the 1,200 people in Israel.

“The number of wounded in Israel is more than 4,500. In the Gaza Strip, from the beginning of the war 77,000 people there (are injured) and the majority of the victims are children and women.

“After more than six months, the consequences of this war are horrible, very, very bad, and not only for the Palestinian society, but also for Israel.”

He went on to say he sends messages to his congregation to “try to find peace even in this hell”, adding: “Our church will always be an oasis for people. Unfortunately, this oasis has become a shelter, a hospital and a cemetery.”

The Argentinian-born priest began his mission in Gaza in 2005 and has said Pope Francis has sent his personal well-wishes to those taking refuge.

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The church had around 1,017 members prior to the October 7 attacks but at least 240 have left the Gaza Strip in fear of the war.

Father Gabriel said: “The people inside our compound at this moment, there is around 500 people inside and they are very depressed.

“They don’t know when this war will finish. Unfortunately, there is not one safe space in all of the Gaza Strip, neither in the north or south.”

He said Gaza was “never a peace land” prior to the war, adding: “Before the war, for the last 16 years, Gaza was, according to many people, the largest prison in the world, because one of the characteristics of the prison is people are not allowed to go out.”

He said the people of Gaza continue to struggle with basic supplies of food and water, and he urged those who have been sending vital aid to continue.