Issued by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media - Jordan. Editor-in-chief Fr. Rif'at Bader - موقع أبونا

Published on Saturday, 6 July 2024
Church in Gaza hosts the injured and the sick as hospitals fill :

St. Philip's Church once offered a haven of devotion to Gaza's small Christian community. After nine months of Israeli military action that has devastated the Palestinian enclave's health system, priests have transformed it into a hospital.


Beds line the pale stone walls under a vaulted roof as doctors tend to patients unable to find space at the Anglican-run Al-Ahli al-Arabi Hospital, which, like Gaza's other remaining medical facilities, is straining under high demand.


"The space designated for prayers was converted into a clinic due to the lack of available places. Today, our priority is to save the life of every human being that we can," said priest Munther Isaac, wearing a black shirt and clerical collar.


A man stood by one bed, fanning an elderly patient lying with an oxygen mask over his mouth. Crosses were carved into the walls of the nave. St. Philip's is located in the same compound as the Al-Ahli al-Arabi Hospital.


"There was no place to admit patients to the departments, so we were forced to turn to this place, which is a place for Christians to worship here in Gaza," said Dr. Mohammed Al-Sheikh.


"Due to the shortage of supplies, we used pews as beds for the patients," he added.


The war began on October 7 when fighters from the militant group Hamas stormed border defences to raid communities in Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking about 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.


The high number of injured from the conflict has added to rampant disease and malnutrition among the 90 per cent of Gaza residents that the U.N. says have been made homeless, putting massive pressure on the enclave's health system.


"In this church, which is no longer a house of worship but has been turned into a nursing facility, we are getting some basic medical services," said Abu Mohammad Abu Samra, who was accompanying his sick mother being treated at St. Philip's.


"It shows the solidarity between Muslims and Christians in northern Gaza," he added.


While there is a significant Palestinian Christian population in the West Bank, the Christian community is very small in Gaza, which has been controlled by Hamas since 2007.