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Gaza clinic destroyed by Israeli jets

A primary healthcare clinic in Gaza City funded by Christian Aid has been destroyed by Israeli missile fire.

The clinic, which provided free care to Gazans, was run by the Near East Council of Churches (NECC), a Christian Aid partner organisation.

The owners of the two-storey building received a telephone warning to evacuate the building within 15 minutes on Saturday evening.

The building was evacuated quickly, just before a warning shot was fired.

That was followed by a direct hit from missiles fired by an Israeli air-force jet.

This completely destroyed the building and its contents, including hundreds of thousands of pounds of medical equipment.

There were no injuries in the attack. Nor was any reason for the attack given.

‘The world needs to wake up’

NECC runs various projects which have been supported by Christian Aid for over 20 years. The clinic has also received substantial funding support from the European Union during the past ten years.

The clinic provided essential free primary health care to the Gazan community, including mother-and-child clinics, neonatal care and family planning. It also housed a laboratory and a small dispensary.

‘The world needs to wake up and stop this. They need to wake up and end the siege and the occupation,’ said Constantine Dabbagh, executive director of NECC. ‘Then there will be some time for peace and reconciliation.

‘Otherwise, this bloody atmosphere will continue. The responsibility of the superpowers, including the US and Britain, is to stop these horrors.

‘If it does not we will all encounter more miserable conditions in the future, God forbid.’

Immediate ceasefire ‘critical’

Janet Symes, Christian Aid’s head of Middle East Region, visited the NECC clinic last year.

She says: ‘It was standing room only as so many mothers had brought their babies and small children for check ups or treatment.

‘The doctors were telling me how they’d increased their hours but still needed more staff to be able to cope with the huge numbers of patients.

‘Now the whole clinic lies in ruins. All the equipment is destroyed. This just underlines how critical an immediate ceasefire is to stop this destruction.’

Christian Aid is one of several major humanitarian, human rights and development organisations calling on the European Union to immediately suspend any further enhancement of its relations with Israel to ensure an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire and provided unimpeded humanitarian access.

Both Israel’s offensive in Gaza and Hamas rocket attacks into Israel have caused unacceptable civilian casualties.

‘The EU’s credibility is now at stake,’ says Daleep Mukarji, Director of Christian Aid UK and Ireland.

‘It is inconceivable that we should extend further benefits of European partnership to a government that violates international humanitarian law and refuses negotiation in favour of continued violence.

‘It is time for robust EU action to bring about an immediate ceasefire and end the violence on all sides.’

The coalition of organisations from more than ten European countries – including Oxfam International, World Vision and Muslim Aid – warns that the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, already dire following the 18-month blockade, has been pushed to crisis point by the current military conflict.

Christian Aid is also asking ordinary members of the public to email Gordon Brown to make their voice heard in calling for a ceasefire.

Christian Aid is calling for an immediate permanent cessation of violence and unfettered humanitarian access so that its partners can provide essential services and make a real difference for the people of Gaza. 

It welcomes the UN Security Council Resolution and Britain’s role in promoting it, but insists it is absolutely critical that the resolution is implemented immediately to allow desperately needed humanitarian relief to reach the people of Gaza.

Notes to editors.

Contact details:

For further information or to arrange interviews with partners in Gaza or with Janet Symes, Christian Aid head of Middle East region here in the UK, please contact Nadene Ghouri on 07590 710942 or email:NGhouri@christian-aid.org

Background information on NECC

Serves the Palestinian people irrespective of religion, faith, political affiliation, geographical locality, gender or creed.

The mission of the Near East Council of Churches Committee for Refugee Work (NECCCRW) in the Gaza Area is aimed at the empowerment and strengthening of Palestinian individuals and communities to help them secure a better quality of life. We seek the development of the whole human being by providing education, training and health services that enhance well-being, self-reliance and community participation in decision making and managing their affairs. Projects are undertaken in the following areas:

Where possible we ask if you would please publish or broadcast details for our emergency appeal:

"To donate to Christian Aid’s emergency appeal for Gaza please go towww.christianaid.org.uk/gaza"