Since Gaza is a territory run by Hamas Islamists, only about 1,200 Christians live there. However, one particular Christian artist is currently doing his part to preserve the Christian Heritage of the Palestinian territory through his artworks.
The artist, Naser Jeldha, has his own studio in the heart of old Gaza, located near a 5th century Orthodox Church. Naser spends his days carving religious figurines and creating low-relief cravings of Biblical scenes, as well as painting portraits of saints, Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
According to the 57-year-old, gray-bearded artist, who is also a member of the Greek Orthodox community, his message is about his religion.
"I want to make it visual. I want to make people see it, not only to be kept as texts in church," he told Reuters.
Naser shared that in between painting, carving and chiseling, he listens to Byzantine prayer music, echoing around his studio and creating an atmosphere from a different era.
Naser has been an artist for 35 years and creates Christian works of art not just to sell them but to give them as gifts to his friends and relatives. He revealed that he was planning to have a public showing of his works in the near future.
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The artist also said that he was hoping to be one of the 800 Christians to be granted a permit by Israel to leave Gaza and travel to Bethlehem to attend prayer services in the birthplace of Jesus.
"We have applied for permits and if we get them I intend to travel with my family," he said.
Naser has been in the Gaza neighborhood for 54 years and has shared wonderful relations with his Muslim brothers.
"Gaza is beautiful and I will not leave it. I do not feel I am a stranger here," he said.