Jerusalem, 30 January 2009.
Each of the current days of the relative calm in Gaza brings opportunities for the Al Ahli Arab Hospital to provide some respite for staff, to concentrate on recovery and rehabilitation for recently injured patients, to offer more attention to patients whose medical needs are unrelated to the conflict, and to attend to the rehabilitation of the physical plant of the hospital itself. Al Ahli, an institution of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, endured shattering of glass in windows and doors during the three weeks of warfare conditions in the area.
But the situation at Al Ahli and in Gaza has not “returned to normal”. The conditions before the recent conflict were already extremely difficult for the hospital because of shortages in all resources, healthcare-related and otherwise. The recent developments have only added to the shortages, while at the same time increasing demands due to the many injured and wounded still receiving medical care.
Bishop Suheil S. Dawani, the Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem and President of the Hospital, announced that “care is being provided at our Al Ahli for free, offered at no monetary cost to patients and their families because of the unstable economic conditions and the hardships facing most of the civilian population in Gaza”.
The Bishop then added, “our warm appreciation goes to our parishioners, partners, and friends both locally in the Diocese and abroad, and to the international agencies such as U.S. AID, the ICRC, WFO, UNRWA, and Church-related agencies, all of whom have generously stepped in to provide monetary support for this medical emergency whose aftermath will continue in the months to come”.
Al Ahli remains under tremendous stress. The situation in Gaza is very complex and many parties are attempting to provide support for the people and institutions there to carry on. The needs are great, but coordination of purchase and delivery of personnel, goods, and services is complicated and sometimes at a much slower pace than the demands for such necessities.
Thankfully, many international individuals and organizations continue to offer help. Such assistance must be coordinated and most importantly must provide what is needed as determined by assessments in Gaza. For these reasons, the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and its Bishop are encouraging that the continued support of Al Ahli be directly coordinated through the Diocesan offices.
With the issues of availability and access, monetary support is still the best way to provide help at this time so that Al Ahli can obtain what it really needs. The Diocese coordinating with the Ahli staff are in the best position to determine the hospital’s needs, and Bishop Suheil believes the best role for the Diocese and its many friends and partners is to support Ahli in meeting these needs. This approach is by far more helpful than sending resources which are not specifically needed at this time.
Two other related realities are confronting Al Ahli and Gaza at this time. There are the post-traumatic psychological consequences of having endured the recent conditions in Gaza. The hospital staff, while somewhat physically rested, remains emotionally spent. The sense of foreboding is strong, as people deal with the reality that the current calm might be tentative and fragile. The Bishop continues to encourage prayerful support for a just and lasting peace.
For the Diocese as a whole, the medical and humanitarian support for Ahli Hospital and Gaza remains paramount in its urgency. At the same time the Diocese continues to provide both support and encouragement for its other institutions and their ministries, many of which serve refugees. This is especially so in the West Bank communities with diocesan schools and the recently restructured and updated St. Luke’s Hospital in Nablus. Many of the West Bank’s Palestinian refugees live in communities whose support comes from UNRWA and they have also been affected by the recent developments in Gaza.
Bishop Suheil in his recent visit to Nablus stated, “the conditions in these areas have been seeing some recovery in the aftermath of the second Intifada. There is still however a long way to go in meeting basic needs, in development of human and material resources for the region, and in obtaining low-cost housing for young families”. The Bishop stressed that “there is an immediate need for school scholarships for students who seek to better themselves and their communities through technical and higher education”.
The Bishop continued by saying “As we pray and seek peace and stability for Gaza, we will also continue with our partners in our prayers and endeavors as a Christian community to seeking well-being and better lives for all those in need who live within the geographic boundaries of our Diocese”.
Previous statements and update about the situation in Gaza are available on the Diocesan website www.j-diocese.org. For those wishing to support Al Ahli in its humanitarian mission, contact
J. Harry Gunkel M.D. at email@example.com
Mobile Phone: 972 (0)52 600 0263
The Rev’d Canon Samir J. Habiby at Specialassistant.firstname.lastname@example.org
Mobile Phone: 972 (0)57 246 1016