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WCC strongly condemns attacks on Sacred Family School in Gaza, closure of hospital

World Council of Churches general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay strongly condemned recent attacks on the  Sacred Family School in Gaza, which is being used as a shelter for civilian refugees.

“This egregious act against a place of refuge and safety for vulnerable individuals, including children and families, is utterly unacceptable,” said Pillay. 

He also expressed grave concern over the forced closure of the Al Ahli Arab Anglican Hospital. 

“We call on all parties to end the violence immediately and agree to a ceasefire. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this tragic time,” said Pillay.

The Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East, Diocese of Jerusalem, released a statement noting that, in the midst of escalating military activity in the Old Gaza City area of the Gaza Strip, the Al Ahli Arab Anglican Hospital has been compelled to close by the Israeli army.

Suheila Tarazi, hospital director, reported that on 7 July, a large amount of firing from drones occurred in the immediate vicinity of the hospital, immediately followed by an announcement that everyone should immediately evacuate all the buildings including everyone in the hospital. 

“Inevitably this placed the injured and the sick in great jeopardy,” said the statement. “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.”

The statement also expresses deep distress that an ambulance was fired at en route to the hospital. “We currently have no information about the condition of our driver and any patients who were being transported for treatment,” reads the statement. 

Archbishop Hosam Naoum, Anglican archbishop of the Diocese of Jerusalem, said: “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.”

The Latin Patriarchate, in a statement on 7 July, expressed grave concern over the news of raids apparently launched by the Israeli army against the Sacred Family School in Gaza. 

“Footage and media reports from the place include scenes of civilian casualties and of destruction in the compound,” the statement reads. “While property of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, the Sacred Family School has, since the beginning of the war, been a place of refuge for hundreds of civilians.”

No religious personnel reside in the school. 

“The Latin Patriarchate condemns in the strongest terms the targeting of civilians or any belligerent actions that fall short of ensuring that civilians remain outside the combat scene,” the statement reads. “We continue to pray for the Lord’s mercy and hope that the parties will reach an agreement that would put an immediate end to the horrifying bloodbath and humanitarian catastrophe in the region.”

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