Fr. Billy witnesses the horror of Gaza

David Tucker

Published 02/08/2014 | 00:00

Fr. Billy Swan with a young patient in the hospital in Jerusalem

A PRIEST from County Wexford has seen at first hand the horror of the war inflicted on the people of Gaza after visiting a hospital in Jerusalem where innocent victims of the conflict are being treated for terrible injuries.

Fr. Billy Swan, a native of Glynn who is based at St Aidan's Cathedral in Enniscorthy, said it was a sobering and humbling experience to spend time with the suffering people following 19 days of war between Hamas and Israel in which more than 1,000 people, most of them Palestinian civilians, have been killed.

'There were people there with their arms and legs blown off... children who have lost their parents,' Fr. Billy told this newspaper of his visit to St. Joseph's Hospital in Jerusalem.

He said what he had seen made him angry because of man's inhumanity to man... 'angry because of the innocent who suffer most and angry because the international community does not seem capable of preventing the bloodshed.'

'These are people who are suffering. They are our brothers and sisters and part of the same humanity and we need to show solidarity with them,' he said.

In a posting on the parish Facebook page over the weekend, Fr. Billy said that 'in the tragic conflict that has been taking place in Gaza in recent weeks, hospitals have also been targeted by bombs and missiles.

'Today I saw suffering that made me angry: angry because of man's inhumanity to man, angry because of the innocent who suffer most and angry because the international community does not seem capable of preventing the bloodshed.

'They are no longer safe as places of refuge and care. Therefore some of the seriously injured have been brought to hospitals here in Jerusalem.

He said it was the desire of the people he met at St. Joseph's Hospital in Jerusalem that the story of their suffering be shared with those willing to listen and to see.

Posting some of the images on the page, he said one shows a young girl whose family: mother, father, brothers and sisters – have all been killed by a shell. Only she survived.

Another shows a man at the bedside of his 15-year-old son whose foot has been blown away; another a man who lost half his arm and a leg in the same incident.

A fourth image shows a young boy of 13 with serious internal injuries, caused by an air missile strike on his home.

One, however, shows a message of hope: Two mothers of injured children with one of the Sisters who works at the hospital.

'It is a picture that speaks peace and the respect given to the Sisters for the incredible work they do,' said the priest.

Fr. Billy who had been in the Holy Land for the past three weeks on a priestly renewal course had no idea he would be on the edge of warzone during his visit.

He moved from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv on Monday, the city targeted by Hamas rocketfire until the fragile ceasefire that is now in place.

Fr. Billy is due back in County Wexford on Sunday (August 3).

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