Salem Boulos Sweilem, a father of five, dies from fear when bombs fall near his home, writes Ameen Sabbagh from Caritas Jerusalem. On the 19th of November 2012, in the middle of the roar of Israeli warplanes that are constantly bombing Gaza. Salem, a close neighbour to the Caritas Health Centre in Shate Refugee Camp died. On that particular day Salem felt very exhausted and frustrated from lack of sleep, so he went to bed to get some rest. That night Israeli warplanes dropped four missiles each weighing more than a ton on and around the Palestine Stadium, which is about 100 metres from the Caritas Health Centre.
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 […]
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 […]
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.
On 29th November, the world is called to show its solidarity with the Palestinian people. Here is a letter from Claudette Habesch, secretary general of Caritas Jerusalem, to mark this special day. International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people Journée internationale de solidarité avec le peuple palestinien
By Caritas Jerusalem Communications Department, Since end of February, Caritas Jerusalem operations in Gaza have been impacted by an oil supply crisis. “It started with difficulties in communicating with our staff in the field” said Jameel Khoury, health department coordinator based in Jerusalem. “Phones lines and emails were not functioning due to power cuts”. Now, the Caritas Jerusalem’s health centre in Gaza has had to stop some of the mobile clinic shifts in isolated areas of the Gaza Strip as service stations have run out of petrol to fuel the clinic’s van. The health centre’s generator is empty, and the staff members are working without power most of the time.
Joseph Cornelius Donnelly is based in New York for Caritas. He writes: Today, the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People is commemorated solemnly at United Nations headquarters in New York and around the world. The necessity is two-fold: to remember the long struggle of Palestinians in their homeland and beyond, and to educate people about what happened and what remains to be done for enduring peace in this historic and complex land called Palestine, inextricably shared with Israel. Despite all the documents, decisions and dissertations about Palestine, there remain gaping holes in understanding. It is necessary today to give the basic facts - who the Palestinians are, where they were born, what fragmented their society, and when will they fully have their rights in the land that is their home. Solidarity suggests deliberate engagement with people more than only issues. It is underscored today as action to sympathize with the oppressed [...]
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 [...]
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.