The crisis in Gaza: how LWR is responding

Crisis in Gaza, Photo by REUTERS/Mohammed Salem, courtesy of Trust.org

by
Aug 7, 2014

There have been many times over the past six years that I have given thanks that I get to be part of the work of Lutheran World Relief.

Most recently, I felt that way because of what is going on in Gaza. Like me, you’ve probably seen it play out on the news. Rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians led to an outbreak of violence in the Gaza Strip and surrounding Israeli neighborhoods. Beginning July 17th, the Israeli Defense Forces launched a ground offensive in Gaza to proactively defend Israel from missiles being launched from Gaza.

With horror, I listened (and watched and read on the internet) as the death toll continued to rise. As of this writing, 1,845 Palestinians (including at least 1,354 civilians, of whom 415 are children and 214 are women). In addition, 67 Israelis have been killed (64 soldiers, two civilians and one foreign national). There are 187,000 people who remain displaced and in United Nations RWA shelters and 65,000 people have had their homes destroyed or damaged beyond repair. [source]

But what strikes the deepest chord with me about this crisis, is the toll it’s taking on children in the area. UN-OCHA reports that there are 373,000 children in need of psycho-social support and hearing the daily news reports it’s not hard to imagine why.

As a mother, this makes me especially thankful for the work of Lutheran World Relief and for people like you who support its mission. With your help, we are responding in two important ways.

A truck is unloaded during a distribution of Quilts and Kits in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

A truck is unloaded during a distribution of Quilts and Kits in the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan.

We are sending Quilts and Kits

We are sending LWR Quilts and Kits to the area. In fact, we just received word from our warehouses that a shipment of Mission Quilts is headed that way. Quilts are especially helpful to displaced families. They provide warmth, can be used for bedding and are also a tangible symbol that people around the world care.

You can help by donating (or continuing to donate) LWR Quilts and Kits. By keeping our warehouses stocked, you allow us to respond to emerging situations while fulfilling existing requests of partners around the world. If you’d like to check the progress of the Gaza Quilt shipment, you can check out our Quilt & Kit Tracking Map.

A fallen sign in Gaza for the  "Near East Council of Churches Committee for Refugee Work"

A fallen sign in Gaza for the “Near East Council of Churches Committee for Refugee Work.” Photo courtesy of NECC/DSPR

We are partnering with local organizations

We are supporting the response on the ground, carried out by our partners in the ACT Alliance, a global coalition of churches and organizations working together to respond to needs around the world.

One of our partners, The Department of Service to the Palestine Refugees of the Near East Council of Churches (NECC/DSPR), runs three clinics in the area. One sustained damage recently, but the other two are currently up and running. DSPR has also been distributing food and water in the area. Another partner, International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC), has also been distributing food and is making plans to provide shelter for people who have been displaced.

How you can help

You can make sure we continue to be able to support responses like this with a gift to LWR. Your cash donations will support the response of our partners in the ACT Alliance.

As I write this, Gaza is entering a second day of ceasefire as Palestinian and Israeli representatives prepare to go to Egypt for talks. Please join us in praying for the people of Gaza, for those participating in the talks and for a sustainable end to the violence in the region.

is Lutheran World Relief's Staff Writer

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  • PRRWRITER

    Concerning Gaza I have deep reservations about this one sided article by Ms. Massie. Why are the following neglected?
    1.Now many rockets has Hamas fired into residential areas of Israel?
    2. How many advance notices has Hamas given Israel’s civilians on where, when & at what their rockets would be launched versus Israel’s advance notices to Gaza’s civilians?
    3 How much of the AID given Gaza after the last military action was diverted to building miles of tunnels into Egypt AND Israel which were used to attack Israel and secure more rockets and the materials for today’s war?
    4 .Since when must Israel leave schools, civilian homes, apartments and mosques storing weapons of war used against them as “safe zones”?
    5 What would you expect to be done if 1,000’s of rockets were launched into Wisconsin today?
    6. What is your take on Hamas’ and the other radical Muslim’s positions on women? (Nigeria and Iraq currently)
    7. Israel prepared defensive weapons (Iron Dome) while Hamas focused on obtaining offensive weapons (longer Range Rockets)!
    .Democracies are not cheap. My God Father died in WWII to protect our and your views. Please indulge me in my Lutheran views.

    • Debsman

      The writer above is apparently unaware that Israelis are killing Palestinians at a rate of 30 Palestinians for every 1 Israeli. Hamas and Gaza’s defenses against the Israeli onslaught are completely ineffective. LWR is about giving aid when aid is needed. Gaza has been bombarded by far more, and far more powerful weaponry, and Ms. Massie describes the specifics. So of course, aid in this crisis is going to where it is needed the most: to the Gazan Palestinians. Why should Israel receive humanitarian aid when its civilian population (2 dead) has been virtually unaffected? And to call Israel a democracy when it has completely different laws and rules for Jews and Palestinians in every realm is nothing more than a cruel joke.

      • PRRWRITER

        1.This implies you would rather see 1,000 dead Jews for every Gazan and Hamas did not institute the war.
        2.How naïve do you have to be to support Hamas for starting the war against Israel and complain Israel is stronger??
        3 I do not recall Israel requesting humanitarian aid..
        4 Israel formed a democracy for Jewish survivors at the outset with world approval after standing by while Hitler slaughtered them by the millions – where were you ? With the Nazis?
        :”NEVER AGAIN” even if Hamas demands Israeli extermination at the expense of Hamas’s own civilians!

        • Debsman

          I would rather see no dead people, and no war. Hamas did not start the recent conflict. Israel was formed on behalf of Jews worldwide, but left out the fact that there were people already living there — the Palestinians — and Israel has not been interested in guaranteeing them equal rights since its inception. To argue that that means that I side with the Nazis is absurd. I side with democracy for all the peoples in Israel/Palestine, including of course the Palestinians, who have been there for about 1200 straight years. You seem to have a very one-sided view of this conflicts, with no concern whatsoever for the millions of Palestinians who have been killed, injured, displaced or otherwise adversely affected by the political situation in Israel/Palestine for the last 66 years.

          • PRRWRITER

            1. I cannot discuss this topic with you further. You are in denial of the facts on the ground .
            2. You also are pretty good a revisionist history. The Nazis visited the Grand mullah and urged he support the total annihilation of the Jews which they have done to this day.

    • LutheranWorldRelief

      Thank you for your comment and questions, PRRWRITER.

      Lutheran
      World Relief envisions a world where each person, every community and all
      generations live in justice, dignity and peace. We believe that all people are
      made in the image of God and are human beings of dignity and worth. Our mission
      compels us to provide necessary aid to victims of violence, regardless of their
      religious, ethnic or political affiliation.

      Please join us in praying for
      people on all sides of this conflict.

      • PRRWRITER

        I would feel reassured if you could guarantee that the aid LWR provides:
        1. does not give Hamas additional funds for making war as they divert it from their own people. What is not spent on their own people appears to be diverted to war materials!!
        2. in return for LWR aid Hamas renounces all its current policies concerning the total destruction of Israel and rearmament!
        My prayers for peace would be assured with Hamas’s agreement to 1 & 2 above as Israel has already acted on limited Hamas pronouncements only to see concrete tunnels into Israel and 1,000’s of rockets rain down on their citizens.
        Your mission should be to strive for peace not to subsidized further wars FOR EITHER PARTY regardless of religious, ethnic or political affiliation.

        • LutheranWorldRelief

          Our aid does not go to Hamas or any government entity in Palestine. We work with local partner organizations who are members of the ACT Alliance (Action by Churches Together), such as DSPR and IOCC. These organizations are active on the ground and ensure that aid is distributed responsibly and effectively. Read more about the ACT Alliance at http://www.actalliance.org/about

          • PRRWRITER

            Your reply is disingenuous. All aid to Gaza citizens are funds Hamas should have spent on caring for its citizens. Hamas deliberately choose to spend tens of millions on rockets including those with greater range into Israel and the concrete tunnels into Egypt and Israel for war materials and to attack Israel. Aid to Hamas has enabled them to finance their wars repeatedly!
            We did not send aid to the German women & children in the last days of WWII. The Nazis like Hamas diverted all resources to the War including killing 1,000s more in concentration camps while Berlin collapsed around their ears with 10’s of 1,000s in dire straights! ONLY AFTER THE SURRENDER did we deal with the humanitarian needs of Germany.. DEMAND A LASTING PEACE FROM HAMAS FIRST!

          • PRRWRITER

            http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/trial-arab-bank-accused-transferring-money-hamas-article-1.1898848

            Arab Bank Accused of Helping Reward Hamas Suicide Bombers in Terrorism Case

            By Heritage Foundation Sharyl Attkisson August 11, 2014 | Comments| Print friendly |

            Ten years in the making, a landmark terrorism-related case is set to go to trial this week in New York. It has unearthed shocking documentation of the formalized network in which Mideast charities solicited funds to reward the families of Hamas suicide bombers. Interest in the lawsuit is heightened given the current violent outbreak between Israel and the Palestinians.

            The plaintiffs are 300 U.S. nationals who were victims in 24 terrorist attacks between 2000 and 2005 while in Israel. Many were vacationing. They were caught in the crossfire during the “second intifada,” or Palestinian uprising.
            Photo: Wikimedia

            But instead of a criminal case aimed at the attackers, the lawsuit goes after the prominent international Arab Bank for allegedly knowingly providing material support and services to Hamas, a designated terrorist group. Arab Bank contends it did not knowingly serve terrorists.

  • Nguvu

    @ PRRWRITER
    I wholeheartedly agree with you. Too many people have no idea what has been going on in the Levant especially in the last 150 years and what is happening right now. If the tables were turned and Hamas had the benefit of the Iron Dome, we would not even be talking about the state of Israel any more, since Hamas would already have wiped the Jewish state of the face of the earth, which of course is also written and demanded in its charter. However, Israel on the other hand could have leveled the Gaza strip several times over if it had chosen to do so, but it is showing great restraint. Just think, Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas in Gaza, is holed up in Qatar with his several BILLION dollars that he absconded with from the financial aid given to the Palestinian people by many organizations and countries around the world. He is giving his orders to use children and civilians in general as human shields via his cell phone from the safety of his sprawling compound in Qatar. Until the Palestinian people start waking up to the reality of the intentions of Hamas, stop electing Hamas, stop strapping suicide vests on children, and/or start rejecting the Hamas charter and the indoctrination of their people, especially the youth, by the violent doctrines espoused by Islam, there will never ever be a peaceful answer to this Middle East conflict. Peace through strength will be the only viable solution for the foreseeable future and this strength must be on Israel’s side. They left Gaza nine years ago, even forcefully removing every last Jewish settler in the region. Intact greenhouses that could have produced hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars worth of revenues for the Palestinian people, were simply left to rot or actually destroyed by the people living in Gaza. Once Hamas was elected the bombing of the Jewish state started and Israel had on choice but to defend itself and start controlling the border crossings, the harbors and air space to make sure no weaponry was funneled into Gaza via any of these means. I cannot and will not support a regime or the people who elected such a leadership that is based on nothing but hate and destruction. You reap what you sow!

    • Debsman

      So is it the position of the previous two writers that LWR should not be sending aid to the Gaza Palestinians? Nearly 2,000 of them have died since the most recent Israeli onslaught began, with over 10,000 injured, power plants bombed and put out of service, no less than 8 UN schools and refugee centers bombed, and over 100,000 displaced (remember: 80% of the people of Gaza are already displaced refugees, going back to 1948). If so, how callous and hardhearted of you! I plan to send a check to LWR to help these poor people, and of course, the money will go directly through LWR to the people, not to Hamas.

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  • Nguvu

    @debsman:disqus
    Go ahead and write a check, empty out your bank account, use your IRA money. Nobody is stopping you. Then thank God that you do have the freedom to act in such a manner. I for one will not be supporting this particular cause.