Creating new perspectives since 2009

Now is not the time to despair; it’s the time to stand up for Gaza

October 23, 2023 at 1:30 pm

Large crowds are gathered outside of the City Hall and take streets in Oakland, California, United States to protest and condemn recent actions by the government of Israel and calling U.S. to stop aiding to Israel, on October 22, 2023. [Tayfun Coşkun – Anadolu Agency]

Every day since 7 October has been yet another 24 hours of Israel killing Palestinians in Gaza. Water and electricity cut off, food and medicine denied, all that Gaza receives day and night are more and more bombs and devastation.

Twenty-two hospitals in Northern Gaza were told to evacuate thousands of critically wounded patients, or face bombing by land, air and sea, so the targeting of Al-Ahli Hospital was on the cards of the aggressors; there were even two smaller air strikes a couple of days before last Tuesday’s bombing. They might have lulled the hospital administration into thinking that they had already had their share of Israeli persecution.

The news of the bombing of Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza sent a feeling of paralytic numbness into many of us. As the death toll rose, the mainstream media tried to convince us that the Palestinians had done this to themselves; that this was a missile aimed at Israel which went wrong. Many of my friends chose to believe this.

The lie compounds my pain and anguish, for no matter who dropped the bomb or where it came from the urgent need is to stop other hospitals from suffering the same fate. I am devastated, because Al-Ahli is the only Christian foundation hospital in the Gaza Strip and it is well loved by everyone, Christians and Muslims alike. It was built by the Church Mission Society around 1900.

‘From river to sea’: Thousands attend latest pro-Palestine rally in London

I worked and lived in the hospital in 1988-89 having answered a request from the Bishop of Jerusalem to look after the wounded of the First Intifada. I told the Bishop I would look after and protect them. I did so until I was barred from entering Gaza by the Israeli occupation authorities.

The bomb came without warning

When the bomb hit, many people were sheltering in Al-Ahli as it is a Christian hospital. There was no other place of safety, and there is also a precious water fountain in the hospital courtyard to drink from, a blessing with the current lack of fresh water in Gaza. The bomb came without warning, targeting the centre of the courtyard where hundreds of people were taking refuge. They were killed. Hundreds of bodies were lying in the hospital courtyard, with many children among those killed. This was not fake news.

Although I am not allowed to enter Occupied Palestine, the people and my colleagues working so hard despite desperate shortages are always in my heart as I am in theirs. Their smiles and their love for their patients keep coming back to me as I write this through my own tears. I wish I could be with them at this terrible time. Professor Ghassan Abu Sitta is now working there to help the wounded but I know he must be completely exhausted.

Please pray for those who have been killed and wounded. Console the mourners and stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Do not despair, as this is the moment we must all stand firm and speak up to protect Gaza and its people.

OPINION: Bombing Gaza hospital – or international credibility?

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.