For 11 years, my spouse and I were part of the Mennonite story in Palestine and Israel, serving with MCC in a variety of roles, including two years living in Gaza while coordinating MCC programs. The past three months since the Hamas attacks in Israel on Oct. 7 and the subsequent bombardment of Gaza by Israeli forces have brought harrowing news from Palestinian and Israeli friends.

  • A text from one Gazan friend: “No one here is safe,” coupled with the crushing report that Israeli strikes had killed his father, brother, and sister, with their family home destroyed.
  • A photo of Elham Farah, an 84-year-old Palestinian Christian music teacher and pianist at the Baptist church we attended while living in Gaza, appears on my social media feed: an accompanying story details how she bled to death in the street after an Israeli sniper shot her in the leg as she tried to reach her house, with Israeli forces preventing Palestinian paramedics from reaching her. Then, a week before Christmas, news arrives that an Israeli sniper shot and killed an elderly Palestinian Christian woman, Nahida Anton, and her adult daughter, Samar, who were sheltering in the compound of Gaza’s Holy Family Catholic church.
  • A message from an Israeli friend and peacebuilder Eitan Bronstein that 78-year-old Haim Peri had been taken captive by Hamas into Gaza—despite his reservations about the project, Peri had advocated in his kibbutz for Bronstein setting up an exhibition about the destroyed Palestinian villages on whose lands the kibbutz had been built.