Confronting coronavirus on three fronts

April 27, 2020- Posted in Diocese of Jerusalem, Gaza, Healthcare, Nablus, Palestine, People, West Bank

In the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza, the hardship brought by the coronavirus pandemic is compounded by the struggles Palestinians face every day.
A patient is checked for fever at a triage tent at Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City
March 24, 2020 – A patient is checked for fever at a triage tent at Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City

The challenges of economic instability, travel restrictions, limited access to water and electricity, and a deteriorating healthcare system are daunting, but the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem is leading the way to prepare and respond to human need across the region in healthcare and in relief to impoverished families.

Thanks to your generosity, in late March and again in early April, AFEDJ made emergency grants to Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City, St. Luke’s Hospital in the northern West Bank city of Nablus, and Archbishop Suheil Dawani’s COVID-Response Fund. You are taking the lead in helping the hospitals and the diocese manage this unprecedented crisis.

Ahli and St. Luke’s are preparing for an imminent outbreak of COVID-19. St. Luke’s director, Dr. Walid Kerry and his team carved out space for an isolation unit and began an assessment of needed equipment, supplies, and staff training. St. Luke’s, the only charitable hospital serving a population of more than 300,000, will be in even greater demand than usual.

Salwa Khoury, the public relations director at St. Luke’s Hospital, said, “[When] we received your email about the incoming emergency fund of $50,000. We read it with real happiness and gratitude because it gives us the hope for going forward in this critical time.”

In Gaza, where before the pandemic 51% were unemployed and 75% food insecure the threat of a widespread outbreak of COVID-19 piles misery on top of misery. Gaza’s already strained healthcare system must prepare for a sudden onslaught of cases with virtually no increase in resources. Suhaila Tarazi, Director of Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, responded, “Social distancing and isolation of the infected is impossible for most Gazans. Families are large, often confined to a few rooms and live in close quarters with neighbors.”

In early March, when the Palestinian Authority closed all educational institutions, mosques, and churches, Archbishop Suheil Dawani, bishop of the Diocese of Jerusalem, began to hear from impoverished families in need of support.

He wrote, “I greatly appreciate your unwavering support of our ministries here in the midst of this crisis. I can assure you that we will put these funds to immediate use as the needs are both pressing and dire…both for our hospitals’ work in stem ming the pandemic and in our relief work among the larger population whose lives have been thrown into economic disarray. May God bless you and the work of our American friends.”

We invite you to share the news of the Christians in the Holy Land as they continue to care for their neighbors in these increasingly uncertain and unsettled times. Thank you for your prayers and financial support.

Visit www.afedj.org/give to make an online donation.


“The Ahli Arab Hospital is the focus of our charitable giving – both the proceeds from the sale of Palestinian olive oil and direct donations – because we know of no other place that, with so few resources, does so much for so many.

“In the most dire of circumstances, Ahli Hospital exhibits extraordinary dedication to the health and well-being of all the people of Gaza, especially those who find care nowhere else.”

The Rev. Bob and Maurine Tobin of Providence, RI are long-time donors to Ahli Arab Hospital. Watch the Tobins’ “Eyewitness to Gaza” videos at bit.ly/AhliHospital