This letter has just arrived from the Caritas office in Jerusalem: Dear friends, Caritas Jerusalem mourns with the people of Gaza at this terrible time. According to the current situation in Gaza after 6 days of Israeli military attacks, 118 Palestinians have been killed and more than 300 injured, among them 19 children killed and 25 children injured. At this time, we are working through our medical centre to respond as best as we can to the unfathomable situation in Gaza. Our six medical points are active and working. For example, a doctor is working in a medical point in Beit Hanoun in Northern Gaza responding to urgent medical cases with our assistance. In Southern Gaza, we have a medical point positioned in Al Breij camp and it has been helpful in responding to the situation there, but our main medical team from our main medical center hoped to travel to that area, but the present circumstances are too dangerous. While we have a mobile medical clinic in Gaza, our mobile clinic is not an ambulance and as such does not have the distinguishing markings of an ambulance and risks being targeted from the air at this time. Moving around in Gaza is exceedingly dangerous. We understand that even ambulances moving around are not safe. Last year, Caritas Jerusalem provided 23 emergency medical bags to 23 doctors throughout Gaza. These bags have been very helpful in responding to urgent medical emergencies by the doctors who received them. We have coordinated with other organizations to respond to the urgent calls for blood and have done our best to respond to calls from blood banks for urgent donations. Currently, Caritas Jerusalem is communicating as best as we can with other agencies to attempt to coordinate an entry of medicines, gauze, medicinal alcohol for wound dressing, bandages, etc. into Gaza at this time to respond to urgent requests that we have received from our partners and hospitals in Gaza for the same. We are also coordinating with other agencies concerning the need to provide urgent food provision to vulnerable communities cut off from food supplies and isolated due to the ongoing military actions. We understand that military actions are still ongoing with some 10 persons killed yesterday. We have noted in the Al Breij region that while withdrawal from the area has taken place, the withdrawal was to a point only 2-3 kilometers away, so military actions continue. We will bring the latest developments of the situation there as we receive more information from our colleagues working there. A story of one family from Gaza follows here. www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=960235 'We thought you wanted peace,' says father of slain Gaza sisters By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent A day after the Asliyeh sisters, Samah, 13, and Salwa, 18, were killed in an Israel Air Force bombing, their grandfather, Mohammed, was hospitalized Sunday. His blood pressure rose and his sons were afraid he would collapse. The horrifying images of the girls' charred bodies were broadcast over and over Saturday on Al Jazeera, and Mohammed found himself the unwilling center of Arab and Palestinian media attention. TV cameras were rolling when he and his wife, the girls' grandmother, reached the smoke-filled room, minutes after the blast, and were pushed back by the men inside to keep them from seeing the terrible sight. A mourners' tent was set up near the family's home in the Tel al-Zaatar neighborhood. The guests' condolences, spoken through a microphone, can be heard over the phone, as well as distant blasts from the ongoing battles between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen. The father, Zidan, 42, still cannot digest what happened. For years he lived there with his 12 children, next door to his brother Diab's family. They had almost no trouble. Diab even has a work permit for Israel (which he can expect to lose, now that he is in the category of those whose relatives were killed by the Israel Defense Forces). Like many of his relatives, Zidan used to work on the other side of the border, and still has many Jewish acquaintances. "Plasterer. That was my profession by you, in Rehovot, in Ashkelon. I always thought you wanted peace, but what did you do? What did you do?! You slaughtered my two girls," he says. He bursts into tears. Salwa had begun medical school this year and dreamed of becoming a doctor. Samah stayed home from school because of the situation. Zidan and his wife were away from home, in Jabalya, when it happened. "We heard there was a blast around where we live. Then I got a phone call from my sisters, who told me, 'Come quick, they bombed the house and your two daughters were killed.' I saw their bodies when I arrived. What can I tell you? It's horrific." He describes the sight in detail, then says: "Did they shoot at anyone? Where they armed? Jewish friends from Israel telephoned me with condolences, but the Jews bombed us when the girls were sitting at home. It's inconceivable." Zidan's brother describes the events: "We kept hearing planes in the air and tanks, so we decided to bring the whole family, mine and Zidan's, down to the courtyard between the two houses, where we felt safer. But the two girls took too long upstairs. We heard a first 'boom' when a missile landed near the house, followed by a second missile that hit the bedroom window." He ran upstairs and saw the carnage. "I shouted, 'Samah, Samah,' but there was only severed limbs. If you had seen the sight you would've wept. The missile burned everything there." Diab, a former volunteer with Magen David Adom in Ashkelon, cannot grasp what happened. "There are no gunmen here. We wouldn't let them near. There are more than 20 children here. We don't want trouble and don't like it, but why did they shoot at us? What did we do to deserve this?" Source: Caritas Jerusalem www.caritasjr.org
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