CARITAS Australia chief executive Jack de Groot has called on the Australian Government to act decisively to end the Gaza conflict now 18 days old (as of publication) after a Caritas-funded medical clinic in Gaza was bombed and destroyed.
The Caritas Jerusalem clinic, in the Al Maghazi district of Central Gaza, was completely destroyed in the bombing that also razed four nearby homes.
“Thankfully nobody was hurt as resident families had fled the area and were temporarily seeking safety in various schools in the district,” Mr de Groot said.
“The need in Gaza for medical assistance is enormous and although Caritas continues to operate five medical centres, the need far out-strips capacity.
“The Australian Government needs to act decisively to bring about a cessation of hostilities in Gaza, this brutality has gone on too long”, Mr de Groot said.
Fr Manuel Musallam, parish priest of Gaza, has referred to the deepening crisis there as “inhumane and criminal.” Speaking from Beit Hanoun in Gaza on January 13, Fr Manuel Musallam said: “There is extreme fear everywhere here. The bombs the Israelis are dropping are literally cutting through people. Night and day the sound of children crying is everywhere”.
Of the 884 people confirmed dead, at least 275 were children, 93 were women and 12 medical personnel have also been killed. Supplies of medicine, food and blankets are all at critically-low levels as humanitarian access remains heavily constrained.
Fr Manuel said that 70,000 people are living in schools and “they are very cold”.
“The ones who haven’t gone to schools are living in their bathrooms or stairwells. There is no water here. We are almost out of diesel for our generator that people are using to cook from. When the diesel runs out we will have nothing,” he said, adding that the conflict “has made these people live like animals and our school is the zoo”.
“There are dead bodies lying on the streets. The clinics are carrying out operations on floors. Women have no place to give birth. One pregnant woman was shot on her way to a clinic to give birth. They tried to save the baby but it too was dead. Life and death for people in Gaza is the same.”
Caritas Australia has launched an appeal for the people of Gaza to provide medical services through its clinics, assist four of the Gaza hospitals in dealing with the crisis and the direct provision of food, hygiene kits, financial support and blankets to people affected by the crisis.