I have many thoughts about the war now raging in Israel/Palestine. I have a lot of thoughts about the propaganda of both sides. What I see and know after visiting the land of the Holy One, is that there are truly two worlds. There is a world where the vast majority of people, be they Jew or Arab, want to simply live in peace, without violence or fear. These people, who live in this world, are not members of Hamas, or the government powers of Israel. As in most wars, these are the majority. The other world are those who can safely stand behind their weapons and their walls and have the luxury of playing “hard ball” without looking in the eyes of those they would annihilate in an instant, and such words and wishes come from both sides in this conflict.
While we see and hear from those in the second world I mention, that first one, and those in it, are merely trying to survive. Many of them are children. We cannot forget how this latest violence all got started, with the senseless killing of three Jewish youth. While the death has occurred on both sides, it is proportionally and completely out of balance. The average age of those dying even more.
In direct service to those wounded and dying in this battle is an Anglican ministry that is truly amazing, Al Ahli Hospital. Al Ahli Hospital, started by Methodist missionaries as a small clinic in the late 1800s, eventually became part of the Anglican Church and the Diocese of Jerusalem. It is the last full service Christian hospital in Gaza. The Rt. Rev. Suheil Dawani, Bishop in Jerusalem, has worked tirelessly to keep Al Ahli’s doors open despite financial crisis and volatile conditions.
In the past few days the only power plant in Gaza has been destroyed leaving 1.8 million people without power, no running water, no sewage. Reports say that 72 United Nations schools, hospitals, and offices have been damaged in the fighting in Gaza. There are 11 full service hospitals in Gaza for 1.8 million people. Two have been destroyed and several are badly damaged. Several UN clinics are also destroyed.
Tuesday we got word of the following:
* A portion of the outer wall of Ahli Hospital has been destroyed.
* The main steam line into the hospital has been damaged. There is now no hot water.
* Large pieces of shrapnel have hit patients’ rooms and the laundry facility. There is an immediate need for repairs to ensure patient safety.
Suhaila Tarazi, Director of Al Ahli, reports that 40% of her staff are unable to get to the hospital because of dangerous conditions, personal injury, or family crisis. She has had to find replacement personnel to attend to the wounded, costing additional funds. The doctors, nurses, and support personnel who are there have been working nonstop for two weeks – providing compassionate care to all. While they have generators for surgery and other emergency needs they need fuel drastically and the cost of that is rising.
Phoebe Griswold, former Chair of AFEDJ’s Board, has visited the Diocese of Jerusalem many times and knows Al Ahli Hospital’s work well. “”God must suffer as he sees his children killing one another in a land he has called to be a place of peace and justice. The Diocese of Jerusalem’s Ali Hospital in Gaza is overwhelmed and urgently needs our immediate help.”
As this tragedy rages on, we can offer immediate and real help through the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. They wire funds directly to the Diocese which are received within hours.
The Rt. Rev. Barry R. Howe, Chair of AFEDJ’s Board of Trustees, comments “we’re so very grateful for the outpouring of support at this critical time. 100% of each gift goes to those who are suffering and those who are ministering to their needs. The Episcopal Church is there to offer healing and the embrace of compassion to all God’s children.”
I urge you all to consider a gift of any size to help this ministry of our fellow Anglicans in the Diocese of Jerusalem and Gaza.
Gifts may be made online at www.afedj.org or by check to AFEDJ at 25 Old King’s Hwy N. Suite 13, Darien, Connecticut 06820. For information about stock gifts or any questions, please call 203-655-3575 . AFEDJ is an independent 501c3 and all gifts are fully tax deductible.