Israel-Gaza Hostilities – Monthly Bulletin

  • 20 Mar 2024

Welcome to the St John of Jerusalem Eye Hospital Group weekly bulletin where we aim to bring you the latest information about the crisis and its impacts on our expert eye-care services in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Please note this bulletin will be updated monthly.

Website update 20.03.24

With hostilities in Gaza and Israel continuing for the past 165 days, it is reported that more than 31,000 people have now been killed and 70,000 injured in the Gaza Strip. It is also reported that 1,200 Israelis have been killed with more than 5,400 injured. The two parties (Israel and Hamas) are now engaged in indirect negotiations to reach a ceasefire agreement.

Many of the hostilities are in the southern parts of the Gaza Strip with a major concern regarding possible land incursions in Rafah where some 1.2 million displaced people are residing.

SJEHG staff are now engaged in discussions with the major health care responders in Gaza including, the World Health Organization, Care International, and International Medical Corps.

Our staff on the ground have secured at least one location to serve as a semi-mobile unit in Deir El Balah. We have also secured an approval from The Unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to move medical equipment and medications to Gaza in preparation for ophthalmic medical responses which should commence as soon as there is a reasonable ceasefire agreement.

As for our staff, most are residing in Rafah and Deir El Balah (south of the Gaza Strip) and remain unharmed. The Hospital has continued to pay staff despite all the challenges.

For detailed information about the situation on the ground, please refer to the latest update on the website of the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website –  https://www.ochaopt.org/crisis.

In East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the security situation remains fragile with sporadic incidents on a daily basis. There has been no relaxation of restrictions on movement during the month of Ramadan.

Our outpatient clinical activities in Jerusalem continue at 75% capacity where most of the outpatients are from the Jerusalem district.

As for surgery, the Jerusalem Hospital operates at almost 75% capacity as compared to the pre-war period.

At the Hebron Hospital, clinical activities have been sustained at almost 95% capacity with an increased number of surgeries performed at the Hospital every week.

Outreach services as well as the child vision screening project are progressing very well with an increased number of patients screened and referred, especially from West Bank refugee camps. To date, more than 20,000 children have been screened by the 3 teams across the West Bank refugee camps as well as East Jerusalem.

Click here for details of our Emergency Appeal.

Website update 20.02.24

With hostilities in Gaza and Israel continuing for the past 137 days, it is reported that 28,000 people have now been killed and 67,000 injured in the Gaza Strip. It is also reported that 1,200 Israelis have been killed with more than 5,400 injured.

Many of the hostilities are in the southern parts of the Gaza Strip with a major concern regarding possible land incursions in Rafah where some 1.2 million displaced people are residing.

Our staff are predominantly residing in Rafah enduring the most devastating conditions. Despite the challenges, we have continued to pay staff and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

We have been engaged in discussions with the major health care responders in Gaza including, the World Health Organization, Care International, International Medical Corps and others to both identify ophthalmic health care needs and coordinate our forthcoming responses.
Management is also engaged with The Unit for Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) to secure shipment of medical equipment and medications to Gaza in preparation for ophthalmic medical responses which should commence as soon as there is a reasonable ceasefire agreement.

For detailed information about the situation on the ground, please refer to the latest update on the website of the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website .

In Jerusalem and the West Bank there has been an increased level of violence with more than 40 Palestinians killed since the start of the year. This has further compromised the movement of people and goods within the West Bank.

Despite such challenges, we have continued to provide services at all our facilities in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

In Jerusalem, clinical activities continue at about 75% capacity and more than 100% at Kufor Aqab. At the Hebron Hospital, clinical activities have been sustained at about 90% capacity.
Outreach services as well as the child vision screening project are progressing very well with an increased number of patients screened and referred, especially from West Bank refugee camps.

Due to the increased level of hostilities in the north of the West Bank, which have reduced the free movements of people, clinical activities at Anabta Centre continue to fluctuate between 30-50%.

Click here for details of our Emergency Appeal.

Website update 18.01.24

With hostilities in Gaza and Israel continuing for the past 105 days, it is now reported that 24,000 people have been killed and 60,000 injured in the Gaza Strip.

Of the 34 hospitals operating in the north prior to the war, only 15 remain operational according to the World Health Organisation.

While information is difficult to obtain, with telecommunication services in Gaza having been shut off for the past week, we have had reports that the hospital is now being used as a shelter by a number of displaced families, and also that much of our medical equipment has been removed.

To the best of our knowledge, all our Gazan staff continue to reside in Rafah City, which is now reported to be home to 1.2 million displaced people.

For detailed information about the situation on the ground, please refer to the latest update on the website of the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website .

The Hospital has continued to pay its staff since the outset of hostilities and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

In January, our Board of Trustees discussed a number of different scenarios and possible medical responses once a ceasefire is reached. More information about our response will be made available over the coming weeks and months.

In Jerusalem, at our flagship hospital, despite an increased level of hostilities in the West Bank, outpatient clinical activities continue at 80% of normal service levels, with surgery running at 65% of normal service levels.

Indeed, throughout 2023 SJEHG treated 134,000 patients and operated on more than 5,900 people, compared to 143,000 in 2022.

Clinical activity continues at 100% in the clinic at Kufor Aqab, and 90% at the Hebron Hospital.

Outreach services as well as the Child Vision Screening Initiative are progressing very well with more than 14,000 patients seen by outreach teams last year, and some 6000 children screened as part of the West Bank initiative.

On account of increasing movement restrictions in the north of the West Bank, clinical activities in Anabta fluctuate between 30-50%.

After this week we expect to move to a monthly update, on the basis that if there is anything to update on in the meantime, we shall continue to do so via this bulletin.

Click here for details of our Emergency Appeal.

Website update 13.12.23

Hostilities in Gaza and Israel have continued for the past 66 days. Considerable damage has been inflicted upon critical infrastructure and essential services, affecting the ability of the victims of this war to maintain their dignity and basic living standards. Following a 6-day Humanitarian Ceasefire, hostilities have resumed both in the north and south of the Gaza Strip.

Our Jerusalem team are in communication with the WHO both in Palestine and Egypt to ensure that SJEHG plays an integral role in the humanitarian response plan being formulated and will be implemented once the war is over or there is an extended ceasefire. The CEO and other members of Senior Leadership Team are also in contact with our Gaza Hospital Manager to explore the most appropriate model of eye care to be employed once there is an extended ceasefire.

For detailed information on the current crisis, please refer to the latest update on the website of the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website-www.ochaopt.org/crisis

In Jerusalem and the West Bank, the impact of the war on movement of people and goods in the West Bank continues, especially in the northern districts. Our clinical activities in Jerusalem continue at 65-70% and 100% in Kufor Aqab Clinic. As for Hebron, clinical activities are at an almost 100% level.

Outreach services as well as the child vision screening project are progressing very well.

Clinical activities at Anabta centre fluctuate between 30-50%.

Click here for details of our Emergency Appeal.

Weekly bulletin– 04/12/23

Hostilities in Gaza and Israel have continued for the past 54 days. For the past week, there has been a humanitarian ceasefire during which Hamas released Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, and increased humanitarian assistance into and across Gaza.

With regards to health care provisions, it is reported that out of the 24 hospitals operating in the north prior to the war, only four small facilities remain operational.

The ceasefire did present an opportunity for one of our staff members to visit and take some photographs of the hospital, and we are pleased to report that it remains standing with no direct airstrikes. However due to further telecommunications disruptions we are not able to assess for further damages.

The Chair of SJEHG’s Board and the Order Hospitaller are in discussions with SJEHG’s senior leadership team regarding models of care most appropriate for the Gaza current humanitarian catastrophe. These will, of course, be shaped by the way the current war develops, especially if there is an incursion on the south of the Gaza Strip.

For detailed information about the situation on the ground, please refer to the latest update on the website of the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website –  https://www.ochaopt.org/crisis

In Jerusalem, at our flagship hospital, clinical activities continue at 65% of normal levels, and at 100% in Kufor Aqab. Outreach services, as well as the child vision screening project, are progressing very well.

At Anabta, clinical activities fluctuate between 30-50%.

Click here for details of our Emergency Appeal.

Weekly bulletin– 15/11/23

Hostilities in Gaza and Israel have continued for the past five weeks, with the Israeli forces’ ground incursion in the north of the Gaza Strip resulting in a large number of fatalities and injuries, as well as destruction to infrastructure.

It is reported that as many as 700,000 people have been displaced to the south which is creating an untenable demand on UN humanitarian agencies.

For detailed information about the situation on the ground, please refer to the latest update on the website of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs website –  www.ochaopt.org/crisis

As for our Gazan Hospital, we have not been able to carry out any further inspection of the building. To the best of our knowledge, it hasn’t sustained any further damage. We are waiting patiently for a humanitarian ceasefire, during which it should be possible to provide an assessment of its status.

All our staff are residing in Rafah and other southern districts.

In Jerusalem, with movement restrictions in place since the beginning of the conflict, clinical activities for the months of October and November remain at 65% of normal activity.

We continue to coordinate with the Israeli Authorities and the East Jerusalem Hospital Network to enable surgical patients to reach Jerusalem to undertake much needed surgical interventions.

Outreach activities have recovered to almost 100% capacity as compared to the same period last year. However, visits to the northern West Bank continue to be problematic, and travelling is deemed unsafe for staff.

In the West Bank, we have introduced a Child Vision Screening programme in the Refugee Camps, made possible by funds from the Hilton Foundation. Screenings are conducted by staff from both Anabta and Kufor Aqab as well as the outreach teams.

So far, more than 800 children have been screened.

Our Kufor Aqab clinic, situated outside the separation wall, continues to provide essential services to those patients who can’t reach Jerusalem and is operating at 100% capacity.

In Hebron, we have increased the number of surgical sessions with activity rising by 42% compared to the same period in 2022.

In Anabta, last week, some of our subspeciality doctors were able to conduct clinics. The workload continues to fluctuate between 40-50% of normal workload.

Click here for details of our Emergency Appeal. 

Weekly bulletin– 10/11/23

Hostilities in Gaza and Israel have continued for the past month, with Israeli troops reported to have encircled Gaza City separating the north from the south areas of the Gaza Strip.  Humanitarian supplies continue to enter via the Rafah Border Crossing.

Since the beginning of the conflict the Israeli military has ordered all hospitals in the Gaza Strip to evacuate. Today many of the hospitals remain operational but many have sustained considerable damage including the Government Eye Hospital.

For detailed information about the situation on the ground, please refer to the latest update from the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

To the best of our knowledge there has been no further damage to our hospital building in Gaza, though we have not been able to carry out further inspections.

All our Gazan staff are residing in Rafah and other southern districts.

In Jerusalem, there has been a slight uplift in clinical activity – currently 65% of normal activity – with more patients being able to attend for surgery. Outreach visits continue at almost 75% capacity.

The Hebron Hospital continues to operate at almost 100% outpatient and surgical capacity.

In Anabta, workload fluctuates between 50-60%.

We are preparing plans of action to respond, in due course, to the needs of those impacted by the crisis, particularly those in displaced communities.

In the immediate term we continue to offer more complex treatments in our regional clinics and are seeking to expand the scope of current services in Hebron and East Jerusalem.

See here for details of our Emergency Appeal.

Weekly bulletin– 23/10/23

Hostilities in Gaza and Israel have continued for the 18th day with an increased number of casualties. For detailed information on the current crisis, please refer to the latest update from the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

SJEHG work in Gaza has been paused since the beginning of the crisis and SJEHG staff in Gaza have now moved to the south district of the Gaza Strip.

In Jerusalem, continued restrictions on movement for both staff and patients mean that the surgical workload is at 30-35% of normal activities, with 50-60% of usual activity in the Outpatients Department.

Clinical activities at the Kufor Aqab Clinic are at almost 90% capacity; in response to the inability of patients to reach Jerusalem, SJEHG have commenced subspeciality medical retina, uveitis, oculoplastic and paediatric services at the clinic. The outreach team manages to conduct clinics most days.

The Hebron Hospital is functioning at almost 90% capacity with a noticeable increase in surgical activities reaching 100% of the normal workload.

Since the beginning of the current crisis, activities at the Anabta Centre remain at 40% of the expected workload. Until now, it has been unsafe for SJEHG doctors to travel from Jerusalem to conduct subspeciality clinics in Anabta. Subject to continuing improvements in the security situation, it is likely that these visits will resume soon.

The SJEHG Board and Senior Leadership Team met on 19.10.2023 to update on the current position, on the status of the Emergency Appeal and to ensure as far as possible sustainable services are maintained and delivered across Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Check back soon for further updates.