Gaza’s Al Ahli Hospital appeals for urgent help

By Matthew Davies
Posted Jul 15, 2014

[Episcopal News Service] Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City is appealing for urgent aid as it struggles to provide critical healthcare services to anyone in need following more than a week of Israeli airstrikes targeting Hamas militants.

One of more than 35 institutions run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, the hospital is striving to meet the increased demands on its already-overburdened staff, who have tended to the wounded despite being surrounded by conflict, the challenges of diminishing medical supplies, and their own fatigue.

“Like many hospitals in Gaza, Al Ahli Hospital is receiving patients who have been wounded, with staff working around the clock to provide them with critical medical care,” wrote Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani in an e-mail to church partners. “At the same time, Al Ahli is experiencing shortages in medicine, fuel, and food for both patients and those in the community who need help.”

During the past week, the Israeli military has carried out hundreds of airstrikes on Gaza, which includes 1.7 million residents and is one of the world’s most densely populated regions, in an effort to stamp out terrorist attacks against its citizens. Meanwhile, Hamas continues to fire rockets indiscriminately into Israel, with some having reached as far as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, even as Egypt attempted to broker a peace deal early on July 15.

“In the last two days, the impact of the airstrikes has caused structural damages to the hospital, including its ventilation system in the operating theater and the emergency room. In addition, windows have been broken in many buildings, as well as in the new diagnostic center,” Dawani wrote in a statement.

The latest statistics from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, published on July 14, report that more than 1,140 Palestinians have been wounded and 168 killed, including 133 civilians, and 36 children; more than 940 residential houses have been fully destroyed, leaving 5,600 people displaced; and 25,000 children have been traumatized and in need of psychosocial support.

“As the Israeli authorities have called up 40,000 reserve troops, there are fears the conflict will escalate and many more Palestinians will be killed, wounded, or displaced,” Dawani said.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who visited Gaza in 2008 and again in 2013, told ENS that “God weeps at this war between his children. We weep as we watch the destruction, and we should be storming heaven with prayers for peace.”

She noted that the Al Ahli hospital “cares for all people in Gaza, both Muslim and Christian, with selfless dedication … Please help the Diocese of Jerusalem respond to the suffering in this latest violent chapter in the Land of the Holy One.”

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani listen to a Muslim woman talk about the importance of Al Ahli Arab Hospital on Jan. 2, 2013. ENS Photo/Lynette Wilson

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani listen to a Muslim woman talk about the importance of Al Ahli Arab Hospital on Jan. 2, 2013. ENS Photo/Lynette Wilson

The Episcopal Church’s policy, as agreed by the 2012 General Convention, affirms positive investment “as a necessary means to create a sound economy and a sustainable infrastructure” in the Palestinian Territories and calls on the church to support “the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian study on peace with justice in the Middle East.”

Alexander Baumgarten, director of justice and advocacy ministries for The Episcopal Church, told ENS: “It is imperative for Israeli and Palestinian leaders to return to the table, with the strong support of international leaders like President Obama, to negotiate a just, durable, and permanent two-state peace agreement. Until a secure and universally recognized Israel exists alongside a sovereign and viable state for the Palestinian people, the tragedy of the present moment threatens to become an increasingly encompassing reality for two people who have suffered the strife of conflict far too long.”

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in a recent statement that he is “deeply saddened and distressed by the eruption and escalation of violence in the Gaza Strip and across Israel” and urged “all sides to show restraint and pursue dialogue to end all conflict in the region.”

“As we continue urgently to hold the people of the region in our prayers, we must pray also for all people of goodwill to come together to protect the innocent and promote peace in the land.”

The violence erupted following the recent abduction and murder of three Israeli teenagers, and the subsequent abduction and murder of a Palestinian youth in retaliation.

“These senseless crimes are wicked and must be condemned by decent people everywhere,” said Welby. “But the conflict that has arisen in the aftermath of these tragic events is the wrong way to proceed. As each day passes we see more innocent lives, including those of children, lost in the terrible cycle of revenge – no good can possibly come of this. It makes the search for a lasting peace that much harder and more elusive. We must all join hands to appeal to all sides to show restraint and to seek the way of dialogue to end all conflict in the region.”

Dawani joined the patriarchs and heads of churches in Jerusalem last week in condemning the “kidnapping and murder of young people and the violence which took place following these horrific incidents. We convey our deepest sympathy and sincere condolences to their families, friends and communities.

“We call upon both sides for an immediate ceasefire and the urgent resumption of peace talks.”

Further information about the Diocese of Jerusalem’s appeal is available here.

To support the Diocese of Jerusalem’s relief efforts in Gaza:

Episcopal Relief & Development’s Middle East Fund at or call 855-312-HEAL (4325).

American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem,

— Matthew Davies is an editor/reporter for the Episcopal News Service.


Comments (11)

  1. martha knight says:

    I have shared much of this story earlier today via social media from The Friends of the Diocese of Jerusalem. If anyone can donate it would be surely appreciative.

  2. F William Thewalt says:

    It’s time for Episcopalians to end their blind insistence that the Muslim Palestinians are the sole victims and downtrodden in this conflict. Hamas/Muslims/Palestinians are the real aggressors and major obstacle to peace. The Egyptians tried to broker a peace. Israel accepted it. Hamas rejected it by shelling the Israelis. I cannot understand why Episcopal sympathies lie with Hamas and the Palestinians. The Muslims are the real aggressors in this conflict. Quite aside I would prefer the steadfast Israelis, who share a Biblical heritage with us, on our side instead of the Muslim Hamas followers who would like to see the downfall of the U.S.

    1. Erna Lund says:

      Please know that the terms of the Cease Fire actually Continue Israel’s ongoing war on Gaza civilians, Continued blockade of Gaza, Continued extrajudicial assassinations, Continued imprisonment of Palestinians without charge, and Continued Occupation with No guarantees–Israel’s decades-long assault on Palestinians Human Rights will Continue–State of Seige with the Brutal Military Occupation for 47 years (per Alert, Jewish Voice for Peace).

    2. Haynes Berk says:

      Israel has placed a blockade noose around Gaza residents for six years, cutting off water and supplies to this region. There were indigenous people, Palestinians who LIVED in Palestine prior to the establishment of the Zionist state in 1948 — the Holy Land is sacred to Christians, Jews and Muslims. END the blockade of Gaza NOW. Enough innocent blood of children, women, and the old has been shed. Israel has the satellite technology to pinpoint EXACTLY where the Hamas tunnels are located without bulldozing with its U.S.-financed bombs, an entire city of human beings. Yes, human beings who are Christians and Muslims.

  3. Dana S. Grubb says:

    As one who prays daily for both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people, I care deeply for the future of both peoples. I have visited both Israel and Palestine on three occasions with Episcopal Church pilgrimages and expect to return in 2015 with when my parish church goes. I have two specific comments:
    1) The present situation in Gaza is one of very one-sided destruction. American-supplied F16 jet fighters, Apache helicopters, bombs, etc. have wreaked a horrible suffering on the general public of Gaza, while the U.S. provided defensive missiles have almost completely shielded Israel.
    2) The Gaza situation has its own sad history of being for several years blockaded and under severe deprivation from adequate food, medicine, concrete to rebuild the electric power & sewage treatment facilities, etc. Even the Episcopal Church’s Ahli Hospital has been bomb damaged in the present attack. Violence on both sides only worsens the situation, with Israel’s overwhelming military has made the situation very one-sided.

  4. Douglas Ousley says:

    Let’s remember that the Palestinians started this by murdering three Israelis and then pummeling innocent civilians with random bomb attacks.

  5. Rich McDonough says:

    Let’s also remember that Hamas has done all in its power to ignore the citizens that it rules over in Gaza and use them as shields against Israel. They have destroyed the Gaza economy, announced that all Israelis are targets (women and children) and are a recognized terrorist organization. Even Fatah recognizes that what Hamas is doing is not only counter productive and will never result in the stated goal of Hamas (the destruction of Israel), but will only lead to more suffering of the Arab population. Until Hamas and it’s terrorist allies are eliminated, this self inflicted destruction will continue.

  6. Jon Swanson says:

    Demonizing the Palestinians in general and Hamas in particular is an all too facile justification for Israel’s relentless decades long oppression of Gaza and the W. Bank. Israel has killed countless Palestinians and jailed countless others. The Episcopal church’s failure to draw distinctions between oppressed and oppressor seems to me a kind of moral weakness. As an an American church it should stand for human rights and secular values.

  7. Sidney Hatchl says:

    I have often thought of how much different this sitation in Palestine and in fact the entire Middle East would be today if the Ottoman Empire had been on the allied side in the 14-18 war.

    Israel is the aggressor. During the Mandate, the British failed to prevent aggressive Zionist infiltration of Palestine and when the Mandate was ended Truman could not wait to recognzie and endorse the outlaw Jewish state called Israel that these infiltrators declared in 1948. The rest is history.

    The Zionists have always wished that Palestine was clear of all non Jews. The Uninted Nations Security Council should adopt a policy calling for all of Palestine to become a single SECULAR state with a Secular flag. Jarlusalum should be an International city?

  8. Louis Stanley Schoen says:

    How else can you say it: Everyone is right and everyone is wrong. The Western world, deeply guilt-ridden by its own complicity in the Holocaust and in their own nations’ cultural anti-Semitism, which included discouragement of Jewish migration to their own countries during the 1930s & early ’40s, strongly supported the Zionist resettlement movement after World War II. Israel has pursued a continuous policy of claiming Palestinian lands through settlement, often after destruction of homes and forced expatriation of previous occupants. Palestinian extremists have responded with armed force, and leaders from both sides have resisted peace agreements. In an Episcopal Peace & Justice Network visit in 1995, we saw and heard all this first hand from Yassir Arafat, two Knesset (parliament) members and many people in churches, Jewish and Muslim worship sites, schools, refugee camps, workplaces, tourist attractions and on the street. With time, the violent extremists on both sides have gained increased power. The USA’s continuous, unquestioned support and funding of the Israeli military force, in spite of Israel’s resistance to our peace initiatives, has aggravated the situation.

    God help us all.

    1. Haynes Berk says:


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