23 October 2023
Anglican Overseas Aid chief executive Jo Knight said Al Ahli Hospital had partially reopened two nights after the attack and was continuing to provide critical care.
Anglican Overseas Aid is a long-time supporter and partner of Al Ahli Hospital.
Ms Knight said 5000 to 6000 people had been sheltering in the hospital compound in the days preceding the blast, with thousands of people moving through the hospital and continuing further south. She said information was still being confirmed, but that from what Anglican Overseas Aid understood, the blast hit a chapel courtyard area within the hospital compound where large numbers of internally displaced people were sheltering.
Ms Knight said seeing the destruction caused by the blast was devastating and felt personal given the decades-long relationship between her organisation and Al Ahli Hospital.
Ms Knight said limited humanitarian aid was currently available to Gaza. According to Human Rights Watch, the Israeli government, which controls most of Gaza’s water, electricity and fuel, blocked access to these resources following the Hamas attacks that began 7 October.
Ms Knight said resources in Gaza were rapidly running out. She said without humanitarian supplies the death toll would be enormous.
“We are a facing a precipice of humanitarian disaster,” she said.
Ms Knight said Australians should call on their federal political representatives to speak up for an immediate ceasefire and to call for the protection of civilians. She said Christians should pray for peace.
Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza is determined to continue providing emergency treatment to all people in need, following an attack on hospital grounds last week that killed hundreds.
Thousands of people were sheltering in and around the Anglican-run hospital when it was bombed the evening of Tuesday 17 October, according to long-time hospital partner the Anglican Board of Mission.
Anglican Board of Mission and Anglican Overseas Aid are raising funds for medicines, fuel, and food as the hospital continues to provide urgent medical care.
The Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem Hosam Naoum said in a press conference that the Diocese of Jerusalem, which runs the hospital, was determined to keep its institutions open.
Archbishop Naoum said two hospital staff members had been injured in the blast which struck a parking lot and courtyard on the hospital grounds.
Hours before the attack, people had gathered in the hospital courtyard to sing together for peace, according to Archbishop Naoum.
He said the hospital was a sanctuary for those seeking shelter from airstrikes and many people were in the parking lot and courtyard of the hospital when the blast happened.
Anglican Board of Mission executive director the Reverend Dr John Deane said in a statement ABM would continue to support the hospital and the Diocese of Jerusalem as requested. Dr Deane said Al Ahli Hospital was a beacon of hope to those in Gaza.
Primate of Australian the Most Reverend Geoffrey Smith echoed the call of Archbishop Naoum for all international parties to help protect civilians.
Archbishop Naoum requested that people stand in solidarity with the church in Palestine and join him in prayer for those affected by the conflict in Israel and Gaza.
Both Israel and Hamas have denied responsibility for the strike. At the time of publication it was yet to be confirmed where the strike originated.