The Gaza-Israeli conflict is in its sixth day and the bombardments and lack of adequate help is weighing heavily on the Gazan population. Israel also continues to come under rocket attack from militants in Gaza.  Today we spoke to Caritas staff on the ground in Gaza, Jerusalem and Ramallah.

Ameen Sabbagh, a coordinator for Caritas in Gaza, said:

“I want to tell you about last night. Israel bombed the building next to the Caritas health centre and damaged the buildings around it. An elderly man who was part of a Christian family in a nearby house was injured and later died of a heart attack from the shock of the attack.

“The situation is very bad. The Caritas health centres are closed and there are just a four or so hospitals open in Gaza. Medicines and emergency essentials are in short supply.

“Caritas staff can’t go to work because there is no transportation to help them get from their homes. People in Gaza are stuck in their houses. It is a big problem because they can’t go shopping for food and access to water is limited. When the conflict started last week people emptied the shops so they wouldn’t be able to buy much even if they could get out of their houses.”

Caritas project officer Jameel Khoury is in Ramallah: He said:

“We won’t be able to go to Gaza today. The crossing was opened for an hour and then it closed because they said there was a bomb at Rafah.

“The Caritas clinics aren’t working but we have 180 agents who are trained in first aid who are working in six areas. Our coordinators are currently trying to buy medical supplies to give to these agents. This means things like gauze, syringes, plasters and cleaning alcohol.

“We’re in contact with the World Health Organization, who emphasised the need for medical supplies, and we’re assessing what people need.

“We’re going to provide people with water as soon as possible. We really need money so our coordinators can buy supplies. We are going to make an appeal to the Caritas confederation as soon as possible.”

Harout Bedrossian, a communications officer with Caritas Jerusalem confirmed there were “some heavy bombardments in Alshate camp (Beach camp) in Gaza last night where Caritas Jerusalem’s medical centre is located.”

He said that the sixth day of Operation Pillar of Cloud was marked by a decline in rocket attacks from Gaza and talk about a possible ceasefire. In Cairo, Hamas and Islamic Jihad heads are MEETING with Egyptian military and intelligence officials in an attempt to reach a ceasefire agreement. An Israeli representative is also in Cairo to debate with the Egyptians. So far the sides have failed to find common ground.

Some 40,000 reserve soldiers, belonging primarily to infantry and tank units, have been called up and are making final preparations to enter Gaza if so ordered.