Jerusalem violence ‘disastrous’

Published March 1, 2001


Violence on the West Bank and Gaza is putting the health of Palestinians at risk and creating extra pressure for the two hospitals run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem.

The deteriorating Gaza situation is having a disastrous impact on all aspects of life, said Anglican Bishop Riah Abu El-Assal of Jerusalem.

The bishop said Gaza was under a total siege, causing 75 per cent of the working population to be unemployed and the rest to be underemployed. Ambulances transporting the critically ill and injured are not allowed to drive between the three distinct areas of Gaza, Bishop Abu El-Assal said, effectively cutting off the middle of Gaza from emergency medical care. Employees of Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City cannot report for work, he added.

Emergency medical workers are denied access to the injured, contrary to international law and the Geneva Convention, Bishop Abu El-Assal noted. As well, food supplies are running short, especially in some of the refugee camps, because farmers can’t reach their fields to harvest.

Reports from the West Bank city of Nablus are worse. At the end of January, the city was subject to nightly bombing attacks by the Israeli military. This lasted two months. Rev. Hanna Mansour, the administrator of St. Luke’s Hospital, said that it is impossible for people to reach the hospital because of military checkpoints.

The Christian presence in Nablus is now only 640 in a population of 250,000.


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