Caritas Jerusalem ready to help after ceasefire in Gaza
“Now the international community must look at the destruction and address the root causes of the conflict”
Bombings on Gaza claimed 240 lives in just 11 days. Sr. Bridget Tighe, director of Caritas Jerusalem, welcomes the ceasefire and explains what Caritas will do to help the many people who were injured and traumatised.
It is wonderful that a ceasefire has come into effect in Gaza. Caritas truly hopes that this dreadful recent conflict will lead to the revival of a genuine peace process and the lifting of the blockade on Gaza. The need for justice and peace in the Holy Land has been brought to the attention of the international community and now is the time for action.
Caritas Jerusalem urges the international community to look at the destruction of this war and to see that we need to address the root causes: occupation, dispossession, settlements and evictions. All of these lead to violence and to more wars and to hatred among the people.
I will travel to Gaza this weekend, as soon as I get permission. In the meantime, we’ve begun to prepare an emergency appeal to support our programmes that will help sick and injured people in Gaza.
For 11 days nobody could move as it was too dangerous for people to be in the streets. The people in Gaza are traumatised and exhausted by yet another conflict. Children were telling their parents, “I don’t want to die!” Many children did die in this brief conflict.
Many sections of road have been destroyed so ambulances have difficulty moving the wounded to hospital.
Now there’s a ceasefire and it’s safe for staff to leave their homes, we’ll open our main clinic tomorrow (Saturday) with the basic staff, meaning doctors, nurses, lab technicians and pharmacists and we’ll treat chronic diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure, we’ll treat those with injuries that do not need hospitalisation and look after people who’ve been released from hospital early. Whoever comes to us, we will treat them.
Caritas has over 60 staff members in Gaza and we are now ready to serve the communities which are facing bereavement, physical injuries, psychological trauma and long-term rebuilding of homes and infrastructure.
We will do an initial assessments of the immediate needs of the people in coordination with the Ministry of Health. We are looking at opening medical treatment centres in cooperation with community-based partner organisations (CBOs) with our staff who live in other parts of the Gaza Strip.
In recent years, through deploying mobile medical teams and working in collaboration with CBOs in remote and marginalised areas, Caritas has developed the capacity to deliver a range of primary health care services, health and nutrition education and trauma.
A Jewish friend of mine said to me both the Jews and Palestinians are traumatised people. They cannot make peace without outside supportive and independent help. The help has to be independent, it has to be understanding and compassionate to enable those two peoples to come to live in peace together.
Young people in Gaza who are twenty years old have lived through four or five conflicts. The effects on children and young people is massive and goes far beyond deep trauma and physical injuries. The young people cannot leave Gaza, they cannot experience a world beyond that small stretch of land which is home to 2 million people. Gaza has one of the highest literacy rates in the world.
Imagine if Gaza youth had the opportunity to use their knowledge and energy in positive ways. Instead, they grow up stuck in a stagnant place with no opportunities, they can only dream of a better life like young people anywhere including young Israelis. With so little opportunities, and seen by much of the world as terrorists, it is no wonder that many young, intelligent Gazans are recruited by local militia.
We pray for the Palestinians and Israelis and for a long-term solution to the conflict. We remember that we’re all called to seek peace with God and our neighbour: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”… “Love your neighbour as yourself.” (Mk 12:29)
Help Caritas Jerusalem provide care to the wounded