The Health Care Centre providing desperately needed primary health care and part of a programme funded by Christian World Service was destroyed by Israeli missile fire over the weekend.
The owners of the building were warned 15 minutes prior to the attack by phone and the building was evacuated as the first warning missile was fired. No one was injured but hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of medical equipment was destroyed. No reason has been given for the attack.
The busy Centre was situated in the densely populated Shijaiya district of east Gaza city, an area which is constantly bombarded and targeted by the Israeli military. It provided essential free primary health care to the Gazan community, including mother-and-child clinics, neonatal care and family planning. It also housed a laboratory and a small dispensary.
“The wanton destruction of these health care facilities is putting more people in danger. These attacks cannot be allowed to continue,” says Trish Murray, International Programmes team member.
“The clinic is completely destroyed with all its equipment and medical supplies,” reports Zack Sabella from the Department of Service to Palestinian Refugees of the Middle East Council of Churches.
“Minutes before the missile hit the building, which hosts the clinic, the Israeli Air Force fired a warning missile next to it, forcing all residents of the building and the adjacent buildings to flee the area. A short while after, the army directly hit the building and razed it completely.”
This is the second major loss from organisations that are part of the ACT (Action by Churches Together) International network to which CWS belongs. On 5 January three clearly identified mobile health clinics were also destroyed.
CWS has received reports from partner groups of the extreme difficulties in delivering humanitarian relief. Staff working in medical clinics have lost family members and fear for the lives of hundreds of Palestinians unable to reach medical assistance because of unremitting attacks from land, sea and air.
CWS is calling for an immediate and permanent ceasefire to end the violence, and unfettered humanitarian access to allow the distribution of urgent relief supplies and medical assistance to the people of Gaza.
CWS sent NZ$ 50,000 in December for relief efforts. CWS has launched an appeal to provide food, medicine and fuel in Gaza. Donations can be made at www.cws.org.nz or Tel 0800 74 73 72.
13 January 2009