A Statement by Anglican Alliance Partners Protesting the Forced Closure of the Diocese of Jerusalem’s Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza

10 July 2024

Photo of Al Ahli Hospital in the aftermath of the evacuation. Photos courtesy of Dawoud Abo Aklas, with thanks to Canon Richard Sewell.

The Anglican Alliance and partners stand in solidarity with the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem in protesting the forced closure and evacuation of Al Ahli Arab Anglican Hospital in Gaza City.

The Anglican Alliance consortium of international partners joins the Diocese of Jerusalem in praying and calling for an immediate ceasefire and for full humanitarian funding and access to bring urgent assistance to those displaced and suffering as a result of the conflict. It calls for the humanitarian protection of hospitals and health services in the midst of war, including for Al Ahli Hospital, so it can continue to provide vital and life-saving treatment for the sick and injured, as part of the Church’s mission to serve those in need.

The consortium of international Anglican/Episcopalian and ecumenical relief and development agencies around the globe, convened by the Anglican Alliance, is supporting the Diocese of Jerusalem in providing humanitarian assistance to vulnerable people through its institutions in Gaza and the West Bank, including Al Ahli Hospital.

In recent days the Israel-Gaza conflict has escalated, including intense bombardment in Gaza City, with Palestinians ordered by the Israel Defense Forces to evacuate several areas. On 7 July Al Ahli Hospital was forced to close. All patients and staff, as well as vulnerable people sheltering in the hospital grounds, were ordered to evacuate the immediate area.

The Diocese of Jerusalem issued a statement on 8 July, saying: “To our great dismay, our hospital is now out of operation at a time when its services are in very significant demand and where injured and sick people have few other options for places to receive urgent medical care… Inevitably this placed the sick and injured in great jeopardy.” 

Al Ahli Arab Hospital has provided a Christian healing ministry in Gaza City since 1882. During this conflict the chapel has been converted to serve as an additional ward. Photo courtesy of Dawoud Abo Aklas, with thanks to Canon Richard Sewell.

The diocese’s statement also reported that one of its ambulances had been fired upon while travelling to the hospital. (See full statement below.)

Archbishop Hosam Naoum, bishop of the diocese and primate of the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, said in the statement yesterday, “We protest the closure of our hospital in the strongest possible terms. In a time of warfare and great suffering it is essential that emergency healthcare services are maintained to treat the injured and the dying. We appeal to the Israeli forces to permit us to continue our sacred ministry of medical care and healing. We plead for an end to the targeting of civilians and all vulnerable people and demand all parties agree to an immediate ceasefire.”  

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby responded on X: “Hospitals must be protected under international humanitarian law. I stand with my brother Archbishop Hosam Naoum in protesting the closure and evacuation of the Anglican-run Al Ahli hospital in Gaza in the strongest possible terms. And I condemn the attack on an ambulance en route to the hospital. In the face of intense Israeli bombardment, this closure puts injured and sick people in even greater danger. I join Archbishop Hosam’s appeal to the Israel Defence Forces to allow the hospital to continue its sacred and courageous work of caring for people in desperate need. To relieve the immense suffering in the Holy Land, I continue to pray and call for a ceasefire, the release of hostages, and for unfettered aid for the people of Gaza.”

The Anglican Alliance consortium is supporting a joint appeal from the Diocese of Jerusalem to help people made vulnerable by conflict to be able to access quality health and education services through the diocesan institutions, including providing funding for:

  • Costs of medical services for vulnerable outpatients and inpatients at Al-Ahli Hospital and its mobile clinic in Gaza, as well as St Luke’s Hospital in Nablus and Penman Clinic in Jenin on the West Bank.
  • Assistance to those in the West Bank displaced or economically impacted by the conflict, especially to ensure children continue to receive quality education, with psychosocial support.

As a group of partners we commend the extraordinary dedication of the staff and the compassion exemplified by the Church’s ministry at this time of crisis. Please continue to hold the Diocese of Jerusalem and the peoples of the Holy Land in your prayers. We invite you to join us in adding your voice and writing to your leaders.

We are grateful for the support already given and inspired by the diocese’s capacity to respond. As needs escalate, please support this appeal if you are able. Members of the Anglican Alliance consortium receiving funds for this Diocese of Jerusalem appeal include:

Aotearoa/New Zealand/PolynesiaAnglican Missions and Tearfund NZ

AustraliaAnglican Board of Mission Anglicans in Development and Anglican Overseas Aid

CanadaPrimate’s World Relief and Development Fund

UKTearfund and USPG

USAEpiscopal Relief & Development

Other entities around the Anglican Communion also support the Diocese of Jerusalem in its wider ministry.

Contact email for the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem: programsdevelopment@j-diocese.org

10 July 2024

 

Signatories to this statement:

  • Anglican Alliance
  • ABM Anglicans in Development
  • Anglican Overseas Aid
  • Episcopal Relief & Development
  • Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund
  • Tearfund UK
  • Tearfund NZ
  • United Society Partners in the Gospel
An abandoned ward after the evacuation. Photo courtesy of Dawoud Abo Aklas, with thanks to Canon Richard Sewell.