Caritas Deeply Concerned About Deteriorating Situation in Gaza
4 August 2006



Caritas Deeply Concerned About Deteriorating Situation in Gaza

 Vatican City, 4 August 2006 "Though overshadowed in the media by Israel"s attacks on Lebanon three weeks ago, Israeli raids and attacks in the Gaza Strip continue to weigh on the civilian population, which is going hungry and thirsty. Worse, the incursions threaten to unleash age-old hatreds and derail the peace and reconciliation work that Caritas Jerusalem and others have been tirelessly dedicated to.  

"These attacks are not a punishment for a certain party, or branch, or person or sect. It is punishment for an entire nation, and this is a war crime," said Fr Manuel Musallam, parish priest of the Latin Convent, Gaza"s only Catholic Church. "This destruction, without cause, is a crime." 

Omar Shaban, director of Caritas member Catholic Relief Service"s office in Gaza, said the constant attacks by the Israeli military into Gaza have led to an ever-worsening situation for people living in the Gaza Strip. 

"Even if we get 200 food packets for families whose homes have been destroyed, the next day we need 200 more, because every day more people"s homes are destroyed," Mr. Shaban said. "Every day it gets worse."  

Fr Musallam explained that the constant flouting of international laws, and the lack of respect for Palestinian people, has made it difficult for him to champion his message of peace and reconciliation.  

"I will call for a Day of Prayer for Jerusalem on Sunday. I will invite Muslims, Christians, and Jews to pray together for peace. We will continue to pray, and to hope for hope," he said, "because people have no hope, they see nothing in their future." 

Caritas Jerusalem has appealed to the Confederation for US$ 1.5 million to help alleviate the suffering of the 1.4 million Palestinians, half of them children, who have been made all the more vulnerable by the conflict. Caritas Jerusalem reports that shortages of electricity, fuel, food, water, medicines, and medical equipment have reached critical levels. The infrastructure is tattered; poorly functioning wastewater treatment plants have led to major public health concerns. Furthermore, thousands of health care workers and government employees have not received salaries in months, and are barely scraping by. 

Through its programmes, Caritas Jerusalem is reaching out to impoverished Palestinian families, helping to cover basic needs including food, clothing, education fees, and urgent medical treatment. Their job creation programme aims to provide opportunities to individuals with limited financial means who have been unemployed for more than six months.

Caritas Jerusalem is also responding to patients with urgent health care needs and those with chronic illnesses who have little or no income. The Caritas Jerusalem Gaza Medical Center team, in coordination with the Palestinian Ministry of Health, is treating the injured and sick in 23 different areas, including the Al Maghazi Refugee Camp, providing medical care and follow-up and distributing much-needed medicines and vitamins.

Caritas Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development, and social service organisations present in 200 countries and territories.


Media Officer, Caritas Internationalis

Palazzo San Calisto

00120 Vatican City

+39 06 69879752



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