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World News

'Pray for people we are uncomfortable with' as ceasefire holds overnight after days of violence on Gaza strip

by Alex Collett

A Middle Eastern Church consultant has said we should be praying for all communities even the ones we are "uncomfortable" with, as a ceasefire on the Gaza strip is held overnight.

The fragile ceasefire deal has ended nearly three days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants. 

More than 40 Palestinians have been killed including 15 children in what Israeli forces are calling pre-emptive strikes.

It's after Palestinian Islamic Jihad had threatened to seek revenge for the arrest of one of its leaders.

Harry Hagopian, Church consultant on Middle East and Gulf issues told Premier who we should be praying for: "Prayer is very important, because that is something we all rely upon. 

"When we talk about the Gaza Strip, there is this automatic reaction by a lot of people in this country- like they're Palestinian therefore they must be terrorists. 

"No, they're not terrorists, they're Palestinians, they're human beings like us. 

"The majority happen to be Muslims and let us not forget that there is a small Christian community living in Gaza, which includes a greek orthodox community, catholic community, and the biggest institutions a hospital and an ecumenical organisation providing humanitarian work is run by the Anglican church in Jerusalem, which helps those residents in Gaza. 

"Incidentally, it doesn't just help the Christians of Gaza, it helps everybody who needs humanitarian assistance in Gaza. 

"So that is something that I think we should keep in the back of our minds, when we're praying because we Christians everywhere have a tendency to pray for people we feel comfortable with. 

"So it is even more challenging to pray for people we are uncomfortable with and this is the situation of Gaza."

Hagopian spoke of the desperate situation on the Gaza Strip: "It's been horrendous because 24 hours ago the fuel ran out, so electricity was totally out. 

"The sewage treatment system was not working fridges, hospitals, clinics, everything. 

"If we are human beings and if we are Christians, and if we have compassion and empathy for the other.

"If we are meant to empathise with these people, and to pray for justice, for peace, for conviviality- then we have to accept that this cannot go on.

"They cannot keep throwing missiles at people every few months in the hope that something different outcome will come."

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