(Vatican Radio) Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian man on Monday during clashes with stone throwers in the occupied West Bank.
Activists report that dozens of Palestinians were also detained overnight by Israel as part of a crackdown on suspected militants, stepped up last month after the abduction and killing of three Jewish seminary students.
Israel launched a military offensive on Hamas-controlled Gaza last week, alleging a response to an increase of rocket attacks from the territory.
At least 172 Palestinians have died and scores of homes have been damaged or destroyed since fighting began last Tuesday, with more than 1,300 Israeli rockets striking the region. Palestinian militants have in turn fired some 1,000 rockets into Israel causing some injuries and property damage, but no fatalities have been reported among Israelis.
According to General Director of Caritas Jerusalem, Fr Raed Abusahlia, most of the fatalities are civilians, including women, children, elderly, and those with handicaps.
He also said that there is fear of a possible ground invasion if the conflict continues.
Listen to Ann Schneible’s interview with Fr Raed Abusahlia, General Director of Caritas Jerusalem:
Caritas Jerusalem is attempting to bring aid to those affected by the conflict in the Gaza Strip, where they have a medical centre and a mobile clinic.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Fr Abusahlia, explained that the current conflict is the third war seen by the region in eight years. Before this most recent spate of violence, he said, the people in the region had already been suffering from high unemployment, limited access to electricity, and the lack of available drinking water.
Amid the current crisis, he said, “hospitals have thousands of people who are injured so they need lots of medicine, they need drinkable water, they need food. They need also shelter.”
However, he noted that the level of danger within Gaza at this time restricts the amount of aid that can be provided to those affected by the violence.
Moreover, the Christian community in the region, he said, has drastically diminished over the past decade. As part of the Palestinian people, they too “are under attack.”
Fr Abusahlia described the current conflict as “madness”, saying that “both sides should stop as soon as possible to save the lives of innocent people in Gaza Strip.”