Anglican hospital director in Gaza says injured are stranded

Anglican hospital director in Gaza says injured are stranded

By Ecumenical News International
8 Jan 2009

Civilians injured by bombings in Gaza are stuck in their homes without food and water, unable to seek medical attention, says the director of an Anglican hospital in Gaza City. Nurses working at the hospital are unable to reach their own injured children at home.

The Al Ahli Arab Hospital has treated more than 100 patients since the onset of the latest conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants. The director of the hospital, Dr Suhaila Tarazi, has been working 16-hour days trying to make the best use of increasingly scarce resources.

She had told Action by Churches Together International, a global alliance of churches and related agencies that supports the hospital, that the situation is worsening by the hour.

On 6 January, ACT International reported that three mobile health clinics in Gaza had been destroyed in an Israeli air strike the previous night. The clinics were run by the Union of Healthcare Committees, started by Palestinian doctors and nurses, and supported by DanChurchAid, a member of ACT. Since the conflict between Hamas and Israel started, the vehicles had been upgraded to provide intensive care to the wounded.

Tarazi had said, "On Sunday we received 17 patients suffering from bombing and shrapnel injuries. Most of the injured were civilians who were sitting in their homes. However, there are even more injured people in areas where they are simply stuck in homes without food, water and electricity - and we are unable to reach them."

When people come to the hospital they are treated and as soon as they are stable they are sent home.

"We have treated more than 100 patients since the most recent attacks began. And we are currently housing 30 injured patients along with persons rejected from other hospitals. We are a church hospital and so we do not turn anyone away," said the doctor.

"The hospital is in urgent need of medicine and supplies. There is no electricity in all of Gaza. We are currently running off of generator power," warned Tarazi. "We have very little supplies left, enough to last for another week. If this crisis continues, we will be in a very dire situation."

The doctor noted, "The attacks are also hitting close to our area here in Gaza City. Yesterday, the main square beside the hospital was bombed - just 30 metres away. The attack left a big crater and injured seven innocent civilians who were just walking on the street."

The crisis is also affecting the families of her own staff, she said.

"Yesterday, one of our nurses, Hania Murad, received a call from her husband while she was working here at the hospital," said Tarazi. "Her husband was calling for the hospital to send an ambulance to pick up her kids, who had been injured in a bombing. However, their home is near the American international school, where we are not allowed to go, even with an ambulance. The Red Cross was also unable to send an ambulance into the area. For 18 hours her kids sat waiting and injured."

One of nurse Murad's children died. "This is the life of our staff. While their hands are working hard to save the lives of many, their hearts are at home with their own kids," said Tarazi.

The Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City run by the Episcopal (Anglican) Diocese of Jerusalem, supported by members of ACT International.

[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]

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