Harout Bedrossian is a communications officer for Caritas Jerusalem. He’s been sending us frequent updates on the situation in Gaza. Here’s the latest. We’re technically into day 8 of Operation Pillar of Cloud. I woke up very optimistic today after last night’s announcement of a ceasefire being brokered by Egypt, but was very disappointed when I switched on the T.V. this morning and found out that nothing had changed on the ground. The bloodshed, the madness, the slaughter of innocent children, women and civilians is still going on… The ceasefire, which was announced from Cairo, was supposed to begin at midnight between Monday and Tuesday. Some twenty minutes after the announcement, the Israeli Air Force (IAF) dropped leaflets in parts of Gaza urging people to evacuate their homes “immediately”. “For your own safety, you are required to immediately evacuate your homes and move toward Gaza City centre,” leaflets dropped over […]
Caritas Jerusalem’s outgoing director Claudette Habesch says there is an urgent need for humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza in response to an upsurge in attacks between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants. Speaking to Caritas Italy staff in Rome, she expressed deep concern over the rising casualties. Mrs. Habesch feared the possibility of an end to hostilities between Palestinians and Israelis was becoming more remote. Fighting has intensified in recent days following Israel’s killing of Hamas’s military chief on Wednesday and rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel. Hamas say they have launched rockets from Gaza against Jerusalem – the first time the holy city has been targeted from the Gaza Strip.
Representatives from Caritas Jerusalem, the Pontifical Mission and the Secretariat de la Solidarite visited Latrun Monastery yesterday in the wake of a vandalism attack. The monastery is 25 km west of Jerusalem. In the attack Tuesday, vandals spray painted “Jesus is a monkey” and the words “mutual responsibility” along with the names of evacuated illegal settler outposts Upper Migron and Maoz Esther, in large orange letters on the outside of the monastery.
Available in French By Laura Sheahen, Caritas Communications Officer A black pupil within azure and indigo swirls, the ‘ayn’ is supposed to ward off envy and the evil eye. These round, blue glass objects are ubiquitous in the Middle East. It’s hard to imagine who would envy the three bedraggled children I’m talking to in eastern Lebanon. Or how much worse their luck could get. Every day, the kids—a boy aged 10, his seven-year-old sister, and a girl aged 9—take a paid car alone from the refugee area where they’re living to the city of Zahle. All afternoon, they roam the streets of Zahle, trying to sell as many ayn as they can. The children are Syrian refugees, part of an exodus that has poured into Lebanon and other countries since spring 2011, but especially in July 2012. Here in Lebanon, some refugee families are living with host families or […]
By Claudette Habesch, Secretary General of Caritas Jerusalem Since 1948, we Palestinians have experienced dispossession and exile. Our diaspora counts today more than 9 million people all over the world. Since 1967, we Palestinians continue to live under occupation. Checkpoints, the separation wall, lack of access to farmlands and humiliation are part of our daily life. For years, we plead for justice so that peace can come to the two peoples of the Holy Land. For years, we are asking for justice and an independent Palestinian state. After decades of fruitless negotiations and faced with a shrinking homeland, we felt compelled to go to the United Nations to ask for the full recognition of the State of Palestine. We hope the nations of the world will respond to our call for the respect and dignity of the Palestinian people at the General Assembly of the United Nations. On this day of Solidarity, we wish no [...]
By Claudette Habesch, General Secretary of Caritas Jerusalem Greetings from the Holy City of the Resurrection, City of Hope where life conquered death. This week will see an important event for us all in Palestine and Israel. The Palestinian Authority will request the United Nations to vote on the recognition of Palestine as a full member state. At Caritas Jerusalem, we have seen the ravages of the occupation on the people for the past 44 years. There is the destruction of houses and crops, the discrimination for access to resources and services, the fear of random arrest and the creeping despair that eventually we might lose the our land to Israeli settlers. The feeling of injustice and humiliation is in every heart. If Palestine becomes a UN member, Palestinians will regain their dignity. They will be considered as equals in peace negotiations and when defending their cause in the UN forum. They [...]
Joseph Cornelius Donnelly, Caritas Internationalis head of delegation at the UN Where does the peace process begin – in which country in what ways and with whom? Such questions are constantly being asked everywhere around the world. From today in Jerusalem but already tomorrow in Kathmandu. From fifty years ago in the Congo to last week in Libya. Seems nothing new under the sun, it just keeps coming around again. From Tel Aviv to Jericho, Hebron to Ashkelon, Gaza to Galilee - still seeking a different future for decent people looking to live their lives without incessant fear and vulnerability. Stories and statistics endless while the peace seems evasive. Often this peace seems more illusion than possibility, crisscrossing hopes and expectations from the four corners of our world. Caritas members often journey in solidarity with the Holy Land – with Christians, Jews and Muslims, as well with Palestinians, Israelis, Jordanians […]
By Joseph Cornelius Donnelly in Jerusalem You can know much but know nothing. You can be near but be far. Realities are intensely complicated here. Details get reiterated daily for decades plus. But facts, hard carefully considered can be elusive when anyone from any of the myriad perspectives attempts to explain situations. However, today’s kind of dreadful facts are unmistably real and clear. Harsh, hard-hitting reality smacks you in the head and guts. Nine hours later no one, no group, had taken responsibility for the quite unexpected bomb exploding in Central Jerusalem near bus station about 3:00PM this sunny afternoon. One woman is dead while 50 others share injuries from light to severe. This horrible attack on life kills in several ways. It’s indiscriminate and all the more invasive against innocent life.
“This is not a regular ambulance. It can save more lives because it contains an intensive care unit for patients in a critical condition,” said Jameel Khoury, Caritas Jerusalem Project Manager. The new ambulance has been provided by Caritas to Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. Home to 1.5 million Palestinians, Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth. Border restrictions mean that people are trapped inside with limited access to goods and services. Israel launched military operations in Gaza at the start of the year. In the months after the bombing, a Caritas mobile medical team travelled around Gaza offering counselling and medical support. Professionals helped people deal with the stress which is common among conflict survivors. Many cases involve trauma in children. If left unaddressed, mental health issues such as depression can develop. “I have seen cases of eating disorders, insomnia, chronic fear, disorientation and trauma,” said Maha [...]
The situation in the Holy Land has escalated again following to the assault on a flotilla headed towards the Gaza Strip on May 31. However, His Beatitude Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and President of Caritas Jerusalem, hopes that the young generation of Palestinians and Israelis will one day know peace. Question: The international community has severely condemned the deadly raid on a humanitarian flotilla headed towards Gaza. What was your reaction to this event? Patriarch Twal : We witnessed the events from a double position. We are part of the international community but also part of the people who are kept prisoners here. We condemn any act of violence. All people should be able to live together in liberty and happiness, whether they are Muslims, Jews or Christians. All actions impeding dialogue and negotiation does not serve peace, no matter who is responsible. Question: US President Barack Obama is currently trying to [...]
Over the past few days Gaza has experienced cold like never before. Rain and hail have battered the cities and the biting wind has meant that the best place for most people was at home. But for thousands of people made homeless following Israel’s three-week assault on the Gaza Strip, their refuge is nothing more than a tent. “My children were so afraid they began crying because of the heavy rain, thunder and lightning,” says Ashraf Abed Rabo, a father of nine whose house was demolished in a missile attack and who is now in tented accommodation. Mr Rabo says that when you live in a tent, the thunder and lightning sound like an earthquake and are terrifying for his children. The cold is also taking a toll on their health and some of his children – like many others in the temporary camps - are suffering from flu and a fever. “My stomach [...]
Mrs Asmahan suffers from constant abdominal pain and her 18-year-old son has started to wet the bed. Even though the Israeli attacks on Gaza were three months ago, the fear and the consequences of it are very much present in people’s lives. “I lost my house and all my belongings,” says Mrs Asmahan. “It is very hard to thank God my children and I are safe under the circumstances.” The Caritas mobile medical team travels around Gaza to offer psychological as well as medical support. It helps people deal with the stress and grief which is common among conflict survivors. “During my work I have seen cases of eating disorders, insomnia, chronic fear, bedwetting, disorientation and trauma,” says Maha Al Omari, a Caritas counsellor who has been helping children and parents cope following the violence. Many of the cases she sees involve children, who are particularly vulnerable during and following a conflict situation. “I have [...]