14.07.06 23:45 Alter: 6 yrs

Caritas Jerusalem Pleas for Gaza

 

Offering assistance to the needy in Gaza - Report from Caritas Jerusalem

 

"The fiercest Israeli attack on Gaza - 23 dead and more than 50 wounded, some in serious condition" (Al Quds News paper, July 13, 2006 - pg. 1 headline in response to the destruction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs building in Gaza)

On the night of July 11, a building in Gaza City was bombed in which nine people from the same family were killed: a husband, wife and seven children with some 24 people wounded. (Haaretz, July 12, 2006 - www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/737324.html)

"The humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate in the Gaza Strip due to shortages of electricity and water, caused by the 28 June bombing by the Israel Air Force (IAF) of the Gazan power plant, and the continued sporadic opening of only some of Gaza's crossing points. Electricity supply to households and institutions remains severely depleted. Gazans are receiving on average 6 - 8 hours of electricity per day and for most families living in urban areas 2 - 3 hours of water per day.

Palestinian Authority national and municipal services which have been financially struggling since the withholding of VAT transfers by the Government of Israel and the cutting of assistance by western donors, are unable to provide essential services to the population. Gaza's high poverty (79% of households are living under the poverty line) and unemployment (40%) levels have sharply limited households' ability to buy supplies, fuel and water.

Almost half the population in the Gaza Strip are children, who are living in an environment of violence, fear and insecurity. Since 28 June, 71 Palestinians have been killed and 197 injured during Israel Defense Forces (IDF) incursions and artillery shelling, IAF air strikes or in disputed circumstances. In the same period one IDF was killed and 4 others injured. Since 28 June, Palestinians have fired 127 homemade rockets towards Israel and the IAF have conducted over 120 air strikes. IDF artillery shelling continues along the north and eastern borders of the Gaza Strip with Israel." (Gaza Situation report - July 12, 2006 - www.ochaopt.org)

(Jerusalem - July 13, 2006) - Unfortunately, the situation in the Gaza Strip has worsened over the last week. Air raids continue shattering the night with sonic booms that terrify small children, women and old people. The Israeli army has entered central Gaza cutting it in two. We are now moving into the third week in Gaza with little or no electricity. This means homes have little or no running water. Food is becoming scarcer.

Direct actions taken by Caritas Jerusalem on behalf of the people in Gaza

Because of the situation in Gaza, we have seen the need to position specific medical resources throughout the region to help physicians respond to urgent medical care needs. These include the securing of 20 enhanced first aid kits to be given to 20 physicians selected in coordination with the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Because of the lack of fuel in Gaza and the inability of most people to easily move around in Gaza, this means that those needing medical care may not be able to travel to a hospital. Therefore, doctors are carrying the burden directly for caring for the ill. By positioning these enhanced first aid kits throughout Gaza, those who need medical care will be able to receive at least a bare minimum of care during this emergency environment.

Caritas Jerusalem is also working on the issue of helping families to get food. With the economic situation in Gaza is in such a degraded state with all of the governmental workers going into the fifth month having received little or no salaries from the government and with the Gaza Strip under an almost complete closure, economic activity has ground almost to a halt. This means that people do not have money to by the little food that is available. We are working to alleviate the suffering that people are facing by distributing food coupons to needy families. Through our Caritas team in Gaza, we are providing food coupons to 250 families in the Al Breij region. In addition, through Fr. Manuel Musallam, the Latin Priest in Gaza, another 300 families are receiving these coupons to help them buy food. We are also working with the Near East Council of Churches in Gaza to provide assistance to another 200 families. All of these beneficiaries have been identified as extremely vulnerable families who are in serious conditions of deficiency. We anticipate that our actions regarding distributions of food coupons will results in almost 10,000 hungry people securing basic food to help them during this current situation. We are working with our partners in Gaza to identify and reach out to other needy and vulnerable populations in need of food aid at this time.

Caritas Jerusalem urges all parties to reject violence and make every effort to restore some sense of calm and orderliness. Killing, aggression, hostage taking and efforts to harm a civilian population are wrong and must be condemned in the strongest terms with a view to end them immediately.

Please contact your religious leaders and or elected representatives and demand from them to act to ensure that the situation in Palestine, Israel and Lebanon not be allowed to spiral out of control and descend into a deeper abyss of despair, hopelessness and violence than already exists. The region of Gaza particularly needs to see an end to violence. Join us in prayer for all the people of this region.

Contact:

Caritas Jerusalem - Communications Officer
P O Box 20894
Jerusalem
Phone: 972 2 628 7574
Fax: 972 2 628 8421
Email