Caritas Scrambling to Help in Gaza Strip

Electricity, Food and Medical Care in Short Supply

JERUSALEM, JULY 24, 2006 ( Caritas-Jerusalem says that the situation of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip has become even more dramatic given the worsening violence.

“At night, we are in darkness. In the streets at night, all you can hear are children weeping, they are so scared,” said Father Manuel Musallam, parish priest of the Latin Convent in Gaza.

“We need food, yes, of course, we need food,” Father Musallam added, referring to the thousands of people going hungry and thirsty as food and water supplies dwindle.

“But more than that, we need freedom from fear,” he said. “We want peace and an end to the occupation. Children are crying at night, some cannot find their mothers, their fathers, their brothers or sisters, and they are left in the dark.”

In the new wave of confrontations that began three weeks ago, the Israeli military knocked out the one power generation plant in Gaza. That means that any perishable food cannot be conserved. And medical centers, if they can operate at all, are depending on the little power produced by generators.

Water pumps that run on electricity have been rendered useless.

Dr. Bandali El-Saigh, the medical director for Caritas in Gaza, said the Caritas medical centers are providing free treatment to all people in need, since no one can afford the small co-payments for visits.

El-Saigh also said that since transportation and petrol are no longer available, Caritas will need to distribute first-aid kits around Gaza so that the sick and injured can care for themselves or others in case they cannot make it to the hospital.

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