Christians in Gaza celebrate grim Easter as war rages across the Palestinian enclave

A priest leads the Easter Sunday Mass at the Palestinian Catholic Holy Family Church in Gaza City, on March 31, 2024. (AFP)
A priest leads the Easter Sunday Mass at the Palestinian Catholic Holy Family Church in Gaza City, on March 31, 2024. (AFP)

Christians celebrate a grim Easter in Gaza and Jerusalem, with the tiny Catholic community in the war-torn Palestinian enclave holding their vigil service as fighting rages on outside.

Around 100 people gathered by candlelight on Saturday night at the Holy Family Church in Gaza City in the north of the Strip to mark the resurrection, when Christians believe Christ rose from the dead.

The church is a short drive from Al-Shifa hospital where heavy combat has been raging for two weeks between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters.

The atmosphere in Jerusalem was equally heavy, with few people at the sacred sites that are usually crowded at Easter.

Even the main Catholic Easter Sunday service at the Holy Sepulchre Church — built on what is said to be the tomb of Jesus — was not full.

Sister Angelica, an Italian nun from Perugia, says she is heartbroken to see so few people at the ancient church, regarded as Christianity’s holiest shrine.

“We were so few. It breaks my heart. But we are like the first Christians, they were few too.”

She says pilgrims were staying away because of the “suffering and death (in Gaza).”

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