Friendships Between Israel and Gaza

A little-known fact about the relationship between Israelis and their neighbours is that, under normal circumstances, thousands of Gazans travel to Israel each year for treatment of major health problems.

After the conflict in May, Israeli officials have reduced such permissions to just those in need of life-saving treatment, but it is still a surprising thing given the enmity towards Israel shown by Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

The patients who come often stay in Jerusalem for several months, with little by way of resources to support themselves. Their presence in the city is seen as an opportunity by some followers of Jesus. Because the patients are often weak from treatments like chemotherapy, simple tasks can be very difficult for them.

Courtyard of the Augusta Victoria HospitalCourtyard of Augusta Victoria Hospital, Jerusalem (photo: Tamarah via Wikipedia)

Amir is a follower of Jesus who comes from a Muslim background. He saw his chance to help meet the practical and spiritual needs of these people, and thus show them the love of Jesus. With the support of other believers, Amir leads a team in providing for medical expenses and care, sometimes even accommodation. He explained:

“There’s a hotel where people from Gaza stay when they’re in Jerusalem for medical treatment.
They hardly have any money or food … so we bring food, we sing, and they ask me to pray.
They are amazed that followers of Jesus care about them.
Even the Muslim hotel owner tells me ‘Come! Whatever you want, we’ll help you.’”

One group from Gaza asked Amir about praying at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, but he told them:

“It doesn’t matter where you pray if you belong to God and you walk his path.
He created the whole world!”

Afterwards, instead of taking them to Al-Aqsa, he took them to the Garden Tomb.

Working with other Muslim-background believers, Amir can help 70 to 80 people at a time. And the team follow up on their new Palestinian friends after they return home. Many become ‘ambassadors of peace’ within Gaza and are in much need of prayer support.

The believers from Israel cannot enter Gaza but maintain contact using smartphones or computers. Amir would also like support in prayer, he says:

“I’ve never seen such a time when Muslim hearts are so open all around the world!
I think it’s because of all the damage that ISIS has done.
Please pray that I’ll be able to continue to meet people,
and they will continue to be open to receive Jesus.”