Supporting Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s Response in Gaza

News and Press Release
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Episcopal Relief & Development is supporting the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City with funding for food and fuel as it responds to urgent needs during the current crisis.

Despite structural damage to the hospital from the impact of Israeli airstrikes, Al-Ahli staff have maintained round-the-clock presence and care for those who have been wounded. Further adding to the strain are shortages in medical supplies and fuel for electrical generators. The hospital’s food supplies are stretched as they provide for patients, their families, hospital staff and those from the community seeking aid.

“We are helping our partner in Jerusalem care for those most vulnerable, particularly the injured and women and children affected by the airstrikes in Gaza,” said Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President for Programs. “Our assistance will help the hospital provide life-saving treatment and compassionate aid, and our prayers are with them as they carry out their work in very difficult conditions.”

The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Bishop of the Diocese of Jerusalem, noted in correspondence with Episcopal Relief & Development that Al-Ahli provides care to the community regardless of faith or ability to pay, including psychosocial support for patients and families severely traumatized by the violence.

“Civilians exposed to heavy bombing have been killed, injured, traumatized, in some cases left homeless and without food,” Dawani stated. “A few children have lost their entire families.”

As of July 16, according to UN OCHA, 1,585 Palestinians, including 717 women and children, have been injured since the airstrikes began on July 7, 2014. In addition, 214 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 164 civilians, of whom 44 were children and 29 women.

Since the escalation in violence, one Israeli has died from shrapnel wounds sustained while visiting Israeli soldiers at the Gaza border, and the Magen David Adom Israel reports it has treated six others who were seriously or moderately injured by shrapnel and fires caused by direct rocket strikes.

“God weeps at this war between his children,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori told Episcopal News Service on July 15. “We weep as we watch the destruction, and we should be storming heaven with prayers for peace.”

Episcopal Relief & Development’s long-standing partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem has provided support for Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza and St. Luke’s Hospital in Nablus, in addition to emergency assistance during periods of increased conflict.

Al-Ahli is an 80-bed hospital in Gaza City, one of the Gaza Strip’s three main population centers. With a total area of 139 square miles and a population of over 1.8 million people, Gaza is one of the most densely populated areas on earth. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reports that there are 30 hospitals in Gaza, with some operated by the Palestinian government and others by local and international faith groups and non-governmental organizations. UN OCHA reported in 2010 that more than half of Gaza’s hospitals (15 out of then 27) had suffered damage during Israel’s Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008-09.

“Please continue to pray for our partners in the Holy Land and the communities they serve, and for all those who are affected by the conflict,” said Episcopal Relief & Development’s Abagail Nelson.

Donations to the Middle East Fund will sustain Episcopal Relief & Development’s partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and ensure continued support for the Church’s presence and life-giving work in the Holy Land.