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Anglican Hospital Hit By Missile in Gaza

by | Tue, Oct 17 2023

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The head of the Anglican Church has called on Israel to reverse an order for Gaza hospitals to be evacuated after one the church’s hospitals in the heart of Gaza City was hit by a missile, wounding four staff members. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said that hospitals and patients in Gaza “are in grave danger” and must be protected.

He raised concerns about the Anglican-run al-Ahli Arab Hospital in the north of Gaza which as well as being hit by an airstrike, was running low on medical supplies. He stressed that the seriously ill and injured “cannot be safely evacuated, they are facing catastrophe.”

The Archbishop stated: “I appeal for the evacuation order on hospitals in northern Gaza to be reversed and for health facilities, health workers, patients and civilians to be protected. The evil and barbaric terror attacks on Israelis by Hamas were a blasphemous outrage. But the civilians of Gaza are not responsible for the crimes of Hamas. Please continue to pray for all innocent people, Israeli and Palestinian, who are caught up in the terrible violence in the Holy Land.”

The al-Ahli Arab Hospital is run by the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem. The Dean of St George’s College in Jerusalem Richard Sewell has been in constant contact with the hospital’s director. He told Premier Christian News: “There were around 6,000 people who were either patients in the hospital or sheltering in the grounds of the hospital, when a missile came in and slammed into the side of a building. It destroyed a cancer assessment unit and one other room. Four people were injured, thankfully, not critically.”

“It spread absolute panic and fear amongst the people who were sheltering there because they felt it would be a safe place to be. Because although the Israelis have cut off all water and electricity, our hospital has its own water supply through underwater systems, although it is a limited supply. They also have electricity because they’ve got their own generator.”

“I don’t know why the hospital was hit, but perhaps it was a reminder that there are no safe places. The Israelis want people to leave. So as a result, several thousand people left the grounds of the hospital because they felt it was not safe enough. And Lord knows where they’ve gone because many people don’t want to take the road south. As we’ve seen one convoy already got attacked.”

“I just overheard a conversation that was being had with somebody who’s sheltering in a church with young children who are there, and I could hear the sound of the children behind crying and frightened, they were terrified. This is the reality of what it means to be a Gazan at the moment. These are not Hamas operatives, these are ordinary people and most of them have got no interest in politics.”

“Feelings are running so high. We as Christians must look deeper, to try to understand and to look at all people with compassion. I belong to a predominantly Palestinian church. My friends are predominantly Palestinian, but my heart is breaking for the pain of the Jewish Israelis, the families of those hostages held in Gaza. And as well, for our people sheltering, terrified, in a hospital which should be a safe place, where there are patients who cannot leave. Please pray for the bombs to stop.”

Anglican support groups and American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem have launched fundraising appeals for the al-Ahli Arab hospital which offers health care to around 45,000 patients a year regardless of ethnicity, religion, political affiliation or economic status.

The United Nations has warned that Gaza hospitals are running dangerously low on fuel and basic supplies. “The shutdown of back-up generators would place the lives of thousands of patients at risk,” it said.

Photo: American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem