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Hospitals in Gaza struggle to cope with casualties

08 August 2014


Destroyed: a shell-damaged ward in the Palestinian Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, pictured on Thursday

Destroyed: a shell-damaged ward in the Palestinian Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, pictured on Thursday

HOSPITALS in Gaza are still struggling to cope with the huge number of people wounded in the latest violence. The Anglican-run Al-Ahli Hospital last weekend announced that since the start of the fighting, it had dealt with 1420 cases, of which more than 35 per cent involved physical wounds.

The surgical team had been dealing "mostly with explosion injuries and traumas, including: abdominal injuries, bone injuries, chest injuries, soft-tissue injuries, and different types of burns". The hospital said that about half the burn cases were children.

Al-Ahli Hospital has also been receiving, on average, about 150 patients, mostly children, affected by inadequate hygiene, resulting from the large piles of uncollected rubbish, and a shortage of food and water. The needs of the hospital include fuel to run generators, medical supplies, food, and linen.

An appeal on behalf of Al-Ahli has been launched by the UK-based charity the Nazareth Trust (https://my.give.net/AlAhli). The Trust said that it could offer practical support through its own Christian hospital in Nazareth.

The Nazareth Trust's chief executive officer, Joseph Main, said: "It doesn't matter what faith or community you are: the constant in all of this is the suffering of those involved, especially the children. There is already a shortage of equipment, medication, food, and fuel, and, with dozens more injured on a daily basis, the situation is clearly critical. We have an opportunity to be able to help. Every donation will make a positive difference and have the potential to save a life."

Mr Main said that the Nazareth Trust, having worked in the region for more than 150 years, was well placed to understand the needs of Gazans: "When there is a humanitarian crisis like this, it is vital for those donating money to know that the aid is going to the right place. The Nazareth Trust has the experience and knowledge, and is committed to ensuring that every penny counts."

The relief and development agency of the YMCA movementin the UK and Ireland, Y Care International, has also launched an emergency appeal (www.ycareinter-national.org). The chairman of YMCA Gaza, Suheil Tarazi, said that the organisation was helping in efforts to reach those in need of emergency assistance. "We have no electricity," he said, "and I myself will run out of drinking water very soon. We call upon the YMCA movement and the international community to exert pressure to put an end to this tragedy."

Gazans will need many months, perhaps years, to recover from the trauma of the latest and longest spell of attacks. One inevitable outcome will be a further hardening of attitudes towards Israel. Beyond Gaza and the Middle East, too, criticism of Israel's onslaught against the territory has grown over recent days. A recently published poll indicates that, even before the outbreak of violence in July, nearly twice as many British Christians sympathised with the Palestinians (35.4 per cent) as they did with Israel (16.9 per cent). The poll was conducted in May for the charity Embrace the Middle East.

These results contrast sharply with the views of Christians in the United States. A Pew Forum pollin April suggested that between 40 and 80 per cent of Christians (depending on denomination) support Israel, and between four and 20 per cent sympathise with the Palestinians.

In the opinion of the chief executive officer of Embrace the Middle East, Jeremy Moodey, the recent bloodshed in Gaza is likely to have further strengthened sympathy among Christians in the UK for the Palestinian cause. "Many Christians in this country have been profoundly shocked by the horrific images coming out of Gaza. Hundreds of innocent Palestinian civilians, including women, children, and the elderly have been killed in the Israeli assault. There have also been deaths on the Israeli side, but on a vastly smaller scale.

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