You can help Palestinian hospitals battle coronavirus

March 22, 2020- Posted in Diocese of Jerusalem, Gaza, Healthcare, West Bank

Dear Friends,

A patient is checked for fever at a triage tent at Ahli Arab Hosptial in Gaza City
March 24, 2020 – A patient is checked for fever at a triage tent at Ahli Arab Hosptial in Gaza City

Think about the overwhelming, life and death battle being waged against the coronavirus in the U.S. and other countries that have sophisticated public health systems.

Then think about Gaza. 

For a while it seemed that Gaza’s isolation from the world might protect its people from the virus. But the virus doesn’t respect closed borders. The first cases of COVID-19 in Gaza are now confirmed. The prospect of an unimaginable humanitarian tragedy in Gaza is real.

2.1 million people live in Gaza. This tiny strip of land is just 25 miles long and 7 miles across at its widest point. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth. Its borders are closed, its sea coast blockaded. After years of war and conflict, much of Gaza remains in ruins. The sewage system is not functional, potable water is trucked in and electricity is on 3-4 hours a day. Poverty, food insecurity, record levels of unemployment and environmental degradation leave Gazans anxious, fearful and traumatized. 

Life in Gaza already is precarious and dangerous. The people of Gaza are trapped. The presence of the coronavirus in this crowded, impoverished strip of land quickly will become a full-blown crisis.

The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem’s Ahli Arab Hospital is on the front line in Gaza. As Ahli Arab Hospital prepares for an unprecedented emergency, we are asking you to help.

Suhaila Tarazi, the director of Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, told us last week,
Suhaila Tarazi, director of Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza City
Suhaila Tarazi, director of Ahli Arab Hospital, Gaza City

“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. We are preparing as best we can. We are training our staff, bringing on additional staff and changing the hospital layout to accommodate COVID-19 cases.

“We need protective clothing, respirator masks and equipment for staff, sanitizing supplies and triage tents. I thank all of our American friends for your help. Without your love and support we would be forced to close Ahli’s doors. Thank you for remembering us in Gaza. God’s blessing on you.”

The Diocese of Jerusalem owns and operates two charitable hospitals – Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza and St. Luke’s in the West Bank city of Nablus. Nablus and other West Bank cities have been in lockdown for weeks. St. Luke’s Director, Dr. Walid Kerry, said,

Dr. Walid Kerry, St. Luke's Hospital, Nablus, West Bank
Dr. Walid Kerry, director of St. Luke’s Hospital, Nablus, West Bank

“We are under a state of emergency in all Palestine due to coronavirus. We appeal to you our dear American friends to help St. Luke’s respond to a COVID-19 outbreak by providing care and treatment for the neediest coronavirus  patients, and to enable us to get the needed medical equipment and supplies, medicines, protective gear and sterilization materials.

We are a charity hospital and barely cover our costs in normal times. God bless you and thank you for your friendship. Please continue praying for St. Luke’s Hospital.”

Suhaila and Walid are embodiments of Christian service. In a region where few Christians remain, they stand on our behalf, ready to do what they always do for the vulnerable Palestinians they serve. They will do what their faith asks of them. Continue to serve everyone, regardless of religion, nationality or ability to pay. 

During these days of tragedy and panic, we ask your prayers for Ahli Arab Hospital and St. Luke’s Hospital. And we ask for your gifts to support their heroic work. Please help us send a strong message to Suhaila and Walid and their teams that their brothers and sisters in America stand with them as they prepare to bravely confront this pandemic. 

We pray that you and your families are safe and well. We pledge to stay in touch with our friends in the Holy Land during these strange and anxious days and we will keep you updated. 

Thanks to your faithful support, Ahli and St. Luke’s will continue to serve, as they have for more than 100 years, as powerful examples of Christian witness in this troubled, overwhelmed region. With your help, desperate Palestinians will see a trace of light and hope at the doors of these remarkable ministries. 

It’s easy to give at our website. Please give generously. Please donate now.

Gratefully,

John Lent, AFEDJ Executive Director

Greg Rickel, AFEDJ Chair
Bishop of Olympia