“We could not sleep last night, today we cannot go out of our houses, it is dangerous to move around,’’ says Dr Issa Tarazi from NECC/DSPR Gaza. (NECC stands for Near East Council of Churches, DSPR for Department of Services to Palestinian Refugees.)In an initial short message Dr Issa reported how that night soon after the Gaza/Israel tensions exploded again there had been 120 air strikes from planes, boats and artillery. “NECC premises are closed; employees cannot reach their working places. Gaza people live in fear and stress, I hope the shelling will stop”.
In a later update he said that the terror of the explosions from the Israeli F16 jets had been so intense that 23 year old Heba Ali Mefrej, the wife of a staff member had died of a heart attack. All other NECC staff were alive and accounted for. Dr Issa knew of three cases where people had died of heart attacks bought on by the stress and terror. They had been Mrs Mefrej, a reporter and an 18 month old baby girl. “The general situation is terrifying; we hope this nightmare will have an end. Please advocate for Gaza and keep us in your prayers,” said Dr Issa. He included a situation update that included the news that for the first time in a time of increased violence the Rafah Crossing into Gaza had stayed open.
Traffic had stayed normal but rather than fleeing people who had left Gaza were returning to be with their families in Gaza.Families who had fled their high risk homes in Northern Gaza were being taken in and supported by family and friends.Christian World Service is keeping a watching brief on the situation in Gaza and is in contact both with partners in Gaza and the Palestinian community and CWS global partner, ACT Alliance.
“It’s a tragic situation when the people suffering are the civilians on both sides of the borders,’’ said CWS national director, Pauline McKay.
Some of the work CWS does with long standing partner DSPR (Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees) is one of the partner profiles in this year’s Christmas Appeal. CWS is hoping that the infant and maternal health clinic in Gaza they help support was not again a casualty of the Israeli bombing as it was before.
“One of our people from here carried baby scales into Gaza to help set up the clinic last time. We all are hoping and praying it does not have to be done again,‘’ she said.An ACT Alliance Alert issued this week emphasised that the fluid situation was unpredictable but the combined 30 years plus experience of ACT partner groups including CWS meant there was a “deep rooted responsibility” to help out. The Alert called for an immediate readiness to “respond to emerging needs such as shelter, food and water, fuel and medical and overall psychological support with special focus on women and children.”
The ACT Alliance Alert has not launched a specific appeal yet.
21 November 2012