Salem Boulos Sweilem, a father of five, dies from fear when bombs fall near his home, writes Ameen Sabbagh from Caritas Jerusalem.
On the 19th of November 2012, in the middle of the roar of Israeli warplanes that are constantly bombing Gaza. Salem, a close neighbour to the Caritas Health Centre in Shate Refugee Camp died.
On that particular day Salem felt very exhausted and frustrated from lack of sleep, so he went to bed to get some rest. That night Israeli warplanes dropped four missiles each weighing more than a ton on and around the Palestine Stadium, which is about 100 metres from the Caritas Health Centre.
The Gaza-Israeli conflict is in its sixth day and the bombardments and lack of adequate help is weighing heavily on the Gazan population. Israel also continues to come under rocket attack from militants in Gaza. Today we spoke to Caritas staff on the ground in Gaza, Jerusalem and Ramallah.
Ameen Sabbagh, a coordinator for Caritas in Gaza, said:
“I want to tell you about last night. Israel bombed the building next to the Caritas health centre and damaged the buildings around it. An elderly man who was part of a Christian family in a nearby house was injured and later died of a heart attack from the shock of the attack.
“The situation is very bad. The Caritas health centres are closed and there are just a four or so hospitals open in Gaza. Medicines and emergency essentials are in short supply.
“Caritas staff can’t go to work because there is no transportation to help them get from their homes. People in Gaza are stuck in their houses. It is a big problem because they can’t go shopping for food and access to water is limited. When the conflict started last week people emptied the shops so they wouldn’t be able to buy much even if they could get out of their houses.”
The Caritas mobile clinic in Khoza'a, an impoverished area lacking medical services in the south of the Gaza Strip. Credit: Katie Orlinsky/Caritas
By Caritas Jerusalem Communications Department,
Since end of February, Caritas Jerusalem operations in Gaza have been impacted by an oil supply crisis.
“It started with difficulties in communicating with our staff in the field” said Jameel Khoury, health department coordinator based in Jerusalem. “Phones lines and emails were not functioning due to power cuts”.
Now, the Caritas Jerusalem’s health centre in Gaza has had to stop some of the mobile clinic shifts in isolated areas of the Gaza Strip as service stations have run out of petrol to fuel the clinic’s van. The health centre’s generator is empty, and the staff members are working without power most of the time.
Children in Gaza City suffer poverty, exculsion and fear. Caritas Jeruslaem believes recongition of Palestinian statehood at the United Nations will pay peace dividends both sides of the border. Credit: Katie Orlinsky/Caritas 2010
By Claudette Habesch, General Secretary of Caritas Jerusalem
Greetings from the Holy City of the Resurrection, City of Hope where life conquered death.
This week will see an important event for us all in Palestine and Israel. The Palestinian Authority will request the United Nations to vote on the recognition of Palestine as a full member state.
At Caritas Jerusalem, we have seen the ravages of the occupation on the people for the past 44 years. There is the destruction of houses and crops, the discrimination for access to resources and services, the fear of random arrest and the creeping despair that eventually we might lose the our land to Israeli settlers. The feeling of injustice and humiliation is in every heart. If Palestine becomes a UN member, Palestinians will regain their dignity. They will be considered as equals in peace negotiations and when defending their cause in the UN forum. They will have access to the International Court of Justice to protect the rights of their land. They will finally believe in a peaceful future in Palestine for their children.
A positive vote will not result in an instant peace agreement between Israel and Palestine. However, this is a real opportunity to restart the negotiations. The vote is a chance for us Palestinians to demonstrate our determination to achieve a rue stable and democratic state living peacefully alongside Israel. It is also a chance for the international community to show that they truly support the two-state solution and the principle of self-determination of people enshrined in the United Nations Charter.
Please show your support to Palestine’s bid to the UN, write to your government, sign petitions and take part in peaceful demonstrations.
We do pray with all our heart for the voices of peace and justice to prevail on both Palestinian and Israeli sides. We pray for Jerusalem to witness a true miracle – from a City of Hope to become a City of Peace.
Patients Wesam Ahmad Abu Matar, 13, and Hana'a Ahmad Abu Matar, 2, at the Caritas mobile clinic in Al Sawarha City, an impoverished area lacking medical services in the west of the Gaza Strip.Credit: Katie Orlinsky/Caritas 2010
By Claudette Habesch, Secretary General, Caritas Jerusalem
In his personal statement for one of the universities, my 17 year old grandson wrote, “A Palestinian Christian from Jerusalem, I was born close to the birth of the Oslo Peace Accord, and grew up with the hope of a just solution and prosperity. I witnessed the disappointing collapse of the peace talks, and now, I will graduate from high school under the cloud of a political stalemate and internal Palestinian strife ”.
To read a statement of a young man with his future ahead of him, commencing with hope and ending with uncertainty, a sentiment shared by all Palestinians, made me realize the immense need of solidarity with the Palestinian people. And where else to look other than towards the United Nations, a bastion of justice and a refuge of those with just causes. Continue reading
Children play in Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on Earth. An Israeli blockade has left much of the war-damage unrepaired. Credit Katie Orlinsky/Caritas
in French (Thanks Caritas Canada)
Lord God of All,
we come to you
as Caritas sisters and brothers from the four corners of the world, refugees and relatives.
We come as people who know suffering and struggle, as families and communities with hope.
We come with respect, compassion and informed solidarity with our Palestinian sisters and brothers. We ask you hear our prayer. We ask you hear their prayer for peace, justice, equal rights and human dignity.
By Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Caritas Delegate at the UN
For the 33rd year since 1977, the international community summons world attention to the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people on 29 November. The United Nations General Assembly Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People is mandated to acknowledge the need for and engage critical opportunities for solidarity and recognition. Continue reading