April Newsletter of the Diocese of Jerusalem.
Greetings from Bishop Riah
“At last I managed to get into
Gaza to visit with our people there, to meet with the members of the
Board as well as the Staff Committee. I had the opportunity to
discuss with UNWRA the ministry of the hospital, challenging their
director and his assistants to reconsider their commitment to work
with us as before.
They were in fact thinking of
canceling their cooperation with us within the next three months,
thus endangering the future of our hospital. Since there are still
thousands of refugees in the Gaza Strip it would have been an
indication of great irresponsibility to the terminate our work
relationship, on which so many people and our hospital in
particularly significantly depend.
I also met Ismail Hanyieh, the
Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority, at his office and
shared with him the importance of the Christian presence in the Land
of the Holy One and the many wonderful services offered by our
medical and educational institutions.
I conveyed the message that we
expect his recognition and participation as well as his affirmation
that the Arab Christian community is part and parcel of the Arab
Palestinian people. Further, I assured him that we are equally ready
to do everything within our power to promote the cause of peace -
peace with justice and peace with truth.
We found him to be a good
listener and appreciative of the different ministries of the church.
He promised to give attention and support to the different Christian
institutions. We also found him ready to reach out to leaders of the
Christian Community in the world at large and to the Heads of
Churches in Jerusalem in particular.” (March 31, 2006)
verge of disaster
Nations aid organizations are warning that the Gaza Strip is on the
verge of a humanitarian disaster due to a lack of money and food.
Shearer, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA), told Foreign Ministry officials that if there is no
significant change in the situation, Gaza will face a humanitarian
crisis as bad as the one in Kosovo.
report by the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) warns of a lack of
basic food supplies due to the frequent closures of the Karni
crossing that are preventing goods from reaching Gaza from Egypt.
The report also said there has been a significant increase in the
number of hungry people since financial aid has been halted.
World Bank statistics show that
if there is no dramatic change, 75 percent of Palestinians will be
below the poverty line within two years. The current rate is 56
percent, compared to 22 percent in 2000.
last two months, as a protest against the Hamas government, Israel
has been withholding the transfer of some NIS 200 million a month in
tax funds to the Palestinian Authority, and the United States and
several other countries have frozen monthly financial aid payments
coming to some $45 million.
UNRWA officials are concerned
that PA workers have not received their salaries this month, due to
Israel withholding the tax money. The United Nations estimates that
37 percent of employed people in the Gaza Strip - more than 73,000
people - work for the PA.
commissioner-general Karen Koning Abu Zayd told Haaretz that if the
PA workers stop receiving their salaries, the UN organization will
have a hard time coping with even the most basic needs of refugees.
Abu Zayd expects 25,000 families will be added to
the food distribution list and said UNRWA is lacking nearly $120
million of the $457.9 million it needs to fund basic needs. Out of
the $150 million needed for projects, such as building schools, the
organization has received only $14.3 million, she said.
is also a public health issue facing the Palestinians in Gaza,
according to the UNRWA report: Some 850,000 fowl are suspected of
having contracted bird flu. Donor nations have yet to transfer in
full the money allotted to fight the virus.
But the threat is not limited to the Palestinians.
A report released last month by Stratfor, a consulting agency that
provides intelligence assessments on world issues, noted that it is
places such as the Gaza Strip where the bird pandemic is mostly to
mutate into a flu that affects humans.
The OCHA report, meanwhile,
states that if the Palestinian Authority loses its sources of income
due to the boycott on donations and the checkpoints remain closed to
Palestinian goods, the PA's gross national product is expected to go
down by at least a quarter.
Strangled in Gaza – Impact of Israeli Elections
the elections, Israelis [did] not vote just for themselves. Not only
[did] they choose parties that affect their own lives for four
years, but also those of 3.5 million occupied Palestinians - as they
have done for 39 years now. The winners in Israel […] form a
government that will determine the most minute details of every
This is the essence of
occupation. One people casts its votes and thereby authorizes its
democratic government to be a dictator in a place that it rules by
military hegemony. In that place there lives a separate nation that
is entirely excluded from any rights in this democratic game.
closing the Karni crossing to merchandise for prolonged periods,
Mofaz (as a cabinet representative) sent tens of thousands of Gazan
Palestinians on unpaid leave. Drivers, merchants, porters, sewing
workshop workers, farmers, construction workers and contractors,
whose materials are not arriving, are all out of work. The already
large number of people dependent on charity in Gaza will grow. The
chain reaction will affect every family's life and choices: the
children's education, medical treatment, visiting relatives,
building an additional room to alleviate the crowded conditions at
Diocesan Institutions –
Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza
Suhaila Tarazi, Director of Al Ahli Hospital: “The situation in
Gaza is truly worrying. It has become from bad to worse. It is an
awful life in Gaza. Every ten minutes there is bombing. Sometimes I
shout: What about our children!”
Ahli Arab Hospital is a
profound illustration of the mission of the Anglican Church, and a
visible expression of our concern for the community in our daily
lives. Ahli Arab
Hospital is known and respected as a provider of the highest quality
health care for all the people of Gaza. A
significant portion of their care is charitable as they minister to
many of the poorest, in a community where over 60% of the residents
live in refugee camps.
recent years Ahli Arab
Hospital has responded to the needs of the people as they occur, in
particular during times of crises that relate to the Palestinian
Israeli Conflict. Throughout its emergency programs the hospital has
continued to provide medical treatment to victims of the current
hospital is also involved in organizing free medical outreach
clinics to the most needy areas to bring primary care and home care
services to villages and individuals who cannot access
services from any other sources. The hospital coordinates with the
community to host the free medical missions and provides free health
care for the patients.
12, 2005, the
Israeli Occupying Forces were redeployed around the Gaza Strip after
they had evacuated settlements earlier on this year. Less than one
month following their redeployment in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli
Occupying Forces escalated their attacks against Palestinian
civilians and property in the Gaza Strip and still do so today.
escalation proves that they continue to substantially occupy the
Gaza Strip, despite the recent evacuation of Israeli settlements.
same time the Israeli launched several aerial attacks against
Palestinian civilian targets throughout the Gaza Strip. They also
launched a series of mock aerial raids, which made Palestinian
civilians, especially children, extremely terrified, and damaged
their property. Even though the Israeli Occupying Forces were
redeployed around the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government maintained
control over all border crossings of the Gaza Strip, transforming it
into a big jail.
impact of this violence on the lives of ordinary people becomes
clear. There is not a single family who has not been affected by the
loss or injury of family members, the loss of work and income, and
more commonly both. The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and
West Bank has
Hospital offers 80 beds in the departments of general surgery,
general medicine, gynecology obstetrics, and pediatrics. It also
provides specialized medical care such as orthopedics, plastic
surgery and urology. During 2004, the hospital was able to treat
3797 referred patients in the out patient clinics and emergency
departments of the hospital. It observed a total of 12302 patient
Out Patient Services, Ahli provides out patient clinics as well as a
24-hour emergency and ambulance services. In the year 2004 a total of
25283 patients were treated in the general surgical and medical
services as well as in the urology, orthopedic, gynecology and
Diagnostic Services, Ahli
Hospital provides basic laboratory services such as hematology,
chemistry, and serology as well as small blood bank, radiology and
ultrasound services for both out and in patients. During the past
year the hospital performed 6019 X-Ray examinations and 26969
Laboratory tests. The hospital also provides physiotherapy and
rehabilitation services for out and in patients.
More than ever the people of Al Ahli Hospital and Gaza in general
need your prayers, action and support. There are no words to the
ongoing suffering and injustice. Every day the Christians of Gaza
and their neighbors experience the hardship of fasting in the
desert, the hardship of Good Friday. Please, pray for us as we do
for you and remember that you have the power to change, if only your
heart is filled with the love of Christ.
Diocese of Jerusalem