Sd. Ye’elim 318/4
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Eilat is Israel’s southernmost city, a busy port and popular resort at the northern tip of the Red Sea, on the Gulf of Aqaba. It is part of the Southern Negev Desert, at the southern end of the Arava, adjacent to the Egyptian village of Taba to the south, the Jordanian port city of Aqaba to the east, and within sight of Saudi Arabia to the south- east, across the gulf.
It was from where Eilat now stands that God’s chosen people attempted to pass into the Promised Land (Nm 33:35; Deut. 2:8-9). Eilat was also recorded in the Old Testament as Elat or Eloth, which was part of the territory of the Edomites, descendants of Esau (Deut. 2:8; 2 Chr. 8:17; 26:2; 1 Kings 9:26; 2 Kings 14:22). It has always been of great strategic importance, where minerals from the Negev were conveyed, sorted, and traded with the Neighboring country, Egypt. During the reign of Solomon, the king had a large fleet built there to transport minerals and other products. To be specific, the near mines of Timna always provided in trade products which were in high demand, such as copper and manganese. The fleet sailed along the coasts of Africa and Arabia (2 Chr 9:21; Ps 48:8; Is 23:1,14; 60:9), bringing back other precious materials such as gold, ivory, sandalwood (1 Kings 9:26-28).
Nowadays, Eilat is best known as a destination for many tourists from Israel and all over the world. An international airport, named Ramon-Eilat, is also located there.
Infrastructures of the Latin Patriarchate
The birth of the parish of Eilat is quite recent, dating back to the year 2000. Initially the parish was called by the name "Holy Trinity," a name later changed to "Saints Moses and Elijah." The formation of the Parish goes back to a priest request made to Patriarch Michel Sabbah by some Arab Christian families originally from Galilee who came to Eilat for work. Initially some priests came to celebrate the sacraments on weekends. Then the Patriarch sent Fr. Alberto Mario Garau, a Jesuit priest to be the first parish priest of Eilat.
The small Christian community of Eilat hosts local Christians, mostly Israeli Arabs from Galilee, tourists and immigrants from Romania, Nigeria, Ghana and Poland, who were later forced to leave the country. Subsequently, Filipinos, Sri Lankans and Indians arrived in Eilat. Since 2006 till the present, many Sudanese refugees arrived in Israel and were sent mainly to the south. Today, Ethiopians and Eritreans have added their numbers. Language is a major issue in the community, and represents both a challenge and an opportunity for unity. Palestinians and Sudanese speak Arabic, and for others, it is English. But gradually, especially for children, Hebrew is the primary language, hence the increasing need for collaboration with the Hebrew- speaking Catholic community. In recent years, the Patriarchate has attempted to obtain land (rent or purchase) to build a suitable center. But the municipality of Eilat so far has not been open to the religious needs of its tourists, immigrants and refugees.