Caritas clinic in Gaza destroyed by Israeli jet attack

 A medical point in Gaza belonging to Caritas Internationalis and run by Caritas Jerusalem has been destroyed by an Israeli F-16 fighter jet. The attack on Friday destroyed the clinic which housed $10,000 worth of medical equipment.

Caritas Internationalis has also announced an emergency appeal for its humanitarian response to the Gaza crisis.

The clinic, in the Al Maghazi district of Central Gaza, was completely destroyed in the bombing which also razed four homes. At least another twenty homes sustained heavy damage in the blast.

As all of the families had already fled the area and were staying in various schools of the district, nobody was hurt in the bombing. Five Caritas medical points remain in Gaza and staff are now trying to extend their operations to cover the needs of the Al Maghazi district.

The Parish Priest of Gaza has referred to the deepening crisis there as "inhumane and criminal."

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 extremely difficult.

As part of the appeal, Caritas Jerusalem aims to provide medical services through its centres and mobile clinic, assist four of the Gaza hospitals in dealing with the crisis, as well as the direct provision of food, hygiene kits, financial support and blankets to people affected by the crisis.

The amount request by Caritas Jerusalem for this seven month programme is ¤1,539,174.

Fr Manuel Musallam, Parish Priest of Gaza, said on the telephone from Beit Hanoun in Gaza this morning: "There is extreme fear everywhere here. The bombs the Israelis are dropping are literally cutting through people and through homes. Night and day the sound of children crying is everywhere. The people here don't sleep. They have lost everything.

"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 because they are afraid of being injured by shattering glass from bombs. There is no water here. We are almost out of diesel for our generator that we have allowed people to come and cook from. When the diesel runs out we will have nothing.

"The Israeli aggression 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 the floor. 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 Internationalis is a confederation of 162 Catholic relief, development and social service organisations operating in over 200 countries and territories worldwide. Collectively and individually their mission is to work to build a better world, especially for the poor and oppressed.

. As part of the appeal, Caritas Jerusalem specifically aims to:

· provide primary health care services and out-patient care to the people of Gaza through its main medical centre, mobile clinic and medical points

· assist 4 of the Gaza hospitals in dealing with the crisis, through the provision of medicines and supplies, including 2 ICU ambulances

· provide food parcels to 4,000 families

· provide hygiene kits to 2,000 families

· provide financial support in the form of cash to 2,000 families and

· provide blankets to 1,000 families.

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