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Friday, January 25, 2008

Episcopalians Send Aid To Gaza

Now keep in mind please, these are Christians who FULLY recognize that the siege of Gaza (which has a predominantlyMuslim population) is UNJUST, has resulted in a HUMANITARIAN crisis, and will NOT "stop the rockets". Something all those Christian Zionists and Israel have YET to learn.

Gaza's Ahli Arab Hospital receives support from American Friends, ERD

[Episcopal News Service] The Ahli Arab Hospital, one of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem's oldest institutions, has been severely affected after Israel's blockade of Gaza on January 17 created fuel shortages throughout the territory, resulting in the closing of the region's main power plant.

Emergency funding from the American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem and Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) is ensuring critical assistance reaches the hospital as it struggles to serve the predominantly Muslim population in Gaza where about 80 percent of the 1.2 million residents are living below the World Health Organization poverty line.

AFEDJ's board, after meeting for two days in Los Angeles and hearing chilling updates about the situation in Gaza, decided unanimously to send $18,000 to Ahli Arab Hospital for immediate humanitarian purposes, the first step in a large nationwide appeal for funds. AFEDJ, a nonprofit, nonpolitical organization which supports the work of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, donated more than $160,000 to the hospital in 2007.

ERD is providing support to help the hospital procure fuel to operate its generator and steam boiler to enable it to remain open and continue to serve the community.

Christian leaders in Jerusalem, including Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem Suheil Dawani, condemned Israel's closure of Gaza's borders as an immoral act that violates international law.

"To deny children and civilians their necessary basic commodities are not the ways to security," the heads of churches in Jerusalem and the Holy Land said in a January 22 statement.

On the same day, the blockade was eased to allow for emergency fuel shipments. "The closure by Israel of its border crossings with Gaza was intended to put pressure on Palestinian militants to stop firing rockets into southern Israel," reported Ecumenical News International.

But, the Christian leaders said, "this siege will not guarantee the end to rocket firing, but will only increase the bitterness and suffering and invite more revenge, while the innocents keep dying."

On January 23, tens of thousands of Palestinians crossed into Egypt from Gaza "after masked gunmen used land mines to blast down a seven-mile barrier dividing the border town of Rafah," the Associated Press reports. This border breach came in response to the January 17 closure.

The AFEDJ meeting was hosted by Los Angeles Bishop Jon Bruno, a board member, to review and revise the partnership's operating procedures and future goals. However, the board decided to revise its agenda to discuss the immediate needs of Palestinians in Gaza. The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles shares a companion relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

The Ahli Arab Hospital, which was founded as a mission of the Anglican Church in 1882 and has been a service ministry of the diocese since 1982, is considered a beacon of hope in Gaza, where there are an estimated 3,000 Christians. In addition to dispensing free medical treatment and services to everyone, the hospital also provides food and other necessities to the needy.

The hospital, because of its location in the center of the city, is able to receive casualties from a number of heavily populated neighborhoods. It works closely with the Palestinian National Authority Ministry of Health, so when there is a demand for patient care, Ahli Arab Hospital is the first to receive the overflow from the government hospital in the central area of Gaza.

Suhaila Tarazi, the Ahli Hospital director, sent a pointed message to ERD stating the severity of the crisis. "Life in Gaza has become terrible and people suffer from fear, humiliation, and poverty."

To help people affected in Gaza, make a donation to ERD's "Emergency Relief Fund" online here or by calling 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to: Episcopal Relief and Development "Emergency Relief Fund" P.O. Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058.

AFEDJ is also appealing for financial support so that it can continue to direct funds to the hospital. Gifts can be mailed to American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, P.O. Box 2040, Orange, CA 92859, or made online here.

-- Matthew Davies is editor of Episcopal Life Online and Episcopal Life Media correspondent for the Anglican Communion.


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