News from Ahli Hospital as COVID takes hold in Gaza
News from Gaza this morning is grim. The Palestinian Ministry of Health reported five deaths and 98 new cases of COVID-19 in the past 24 hours. This brings the number of active cases to 596.
For the first six months of the pandemic, COVID in Gaza was limited to a small number of cases in quarantine centers. That began to change ten days ago when the first cases of community transmission were confirmed. Gaza has been under curfew and lockdown since August 24. With its deteriorating healthcare system, failed water and sewage systems, its densely-populated refugee camps and villages, Gaza is home to some of the most vulnerable people in the world. The rapid spread of the coronavirus would heap tragedy upon tragedy.
Despite the fast-changing conditions and dire outlook, each day Ahli Arab Hospital continues to witness to Christ’s love by serving indigent children and their families and providing surgical and obstetrical services at no charge.
Here’s what we know about the current situation at Ahli from its general director, Suhaila Tarazi:
- Travel restrictions in place because of the lockdown have led to a staff shortage, putting pressure on staff who live near the hospital to work extended shifts.
- The Ministry of Health (MoH) has closed five public hospitals, and the infection rate among public healthcare workers is high.
- At the request of the MoH, Ahli has established a new diabetic clinic on its campus to fill the gap left by the closure of public hospitals.
The humanitarian crisis we feared in March may soon be upon the people of Gaza. That prospect – amid the ongoing political and economic turmoil and the constant threat of violence – is frightening and daunting. As faithful American Friends of Ahli Hospital we can offer prayers for Ahli Hospital leaders, staff, and their patients and continue to provide financial support to Ahli so that the Christian witness of love, care, and healing may shine a light of hope in a desolate place.
We mustn’t forget the people of Gaza. The Book of Common Prayer reminds us of our vow to “do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in…” Walking as best we can with our brothers and sisters in Gaza is such good work.
We are grateful for the outpouring of support you have shown for the ministry at Ahli Hospital. Thank you for continuing to hold them in your prayers and for your financial support as you are able.
Below is an intercession for the people of Gaza in the time of coronavirus for you to use in your personal prayers, in your congregations, and to share with members of your dioceses.
With gratitude and hope,
Executive Director, AFEDJ
The Rt. Rev. Greg Rickel
Chair, AFEDJ Board of Trustees
PRAYERS FOR THE PEOPLE OF GAZA IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS
God of peace, whose beloved Son was born not far to the East in Bethlehem, we pray for the people of Gaza that they may be assured of your unfailing love in the midst of these uncertain and perilous times.
Grant them freedom from fear and give them hope for a future safe from harm and disease. In the midst of their sorrow and worry, shelter them from despair.
For all who are fearful for the safety of their loved ones as the pandemic threats to overwhelm them, we pray that they find peace.
For all who are sick, we pray they find healing.
For all who have died, we pray they find rest. For all who grieve, we pray they find comfort.
For all doctors, nurses, and other health workers who share their skills unselfishly, we pray that you keep them under your mercy and give them strength as they care for others.
For leaders on all sides, we pray for a renewed will to lay down arms, for the strength to put the grievances and wrongs suffered by their people to rest, and for the conviction to embrace a path of reconciliation and peace that preserves the rights and dignity of all of your children.
God of justice, help us to remember there is no border that can separate us from your great love and protection, no stone that can sound the well of your deep mercy.
Bless and protect our sisters and brothers in Gaza, especially your servants at Ahli Arab Hospital whose loving and tender care for all of their neighbors reveals the face of Christ.
With earnest hope that the threat of a widespread pandemic will pass by your children in Gaza, we ask all this in the name of your Son, Jesus. Amen.
– American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem