Caritas Calls for End to Gaza Violence

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 5, 2008 ( Caritas Internationalis has called for an end to the spate of military attacks and killings in Gaza that have left 118 Palestinians killed and more than 300 injured in just six days.

Three Israelis have died in the same period, including a civilian killed by a rocket.

Caritas said in a statement released Tuesday that it urged respect for all human rights, including the right to life, and said the killing of innocent people could never be justified. Nineteen children have died in the unrest.

Israeli forces have pulled out of Gaza but warned that the operation, aimed at suppressing rocket fire, was not finished.

Caritas Jerusalem staff are on the ground providing help to people caught up in the fighting.

Six medical points have been set up to provide urgent care, including centers at Al Breij refugee camp in southern Gaza and Beit Hanoun in the north.

Doctors have been able to use emergency medical bags distributed by Caritas Jerusalem last year, but the fragile security situation has prevented the agency’s main medical team from traveling to Al Breij.

The agency said it had coordinated with partner organizations to help respond to the urgent need for blood supplies.

Samuel Martin, Caritas Jerusalem communications officer, said: “Caritas Jerusalem is communicating as best as we can with other agencies to attempt to coordinate an entry of medicines, gauze, medicinal alcohol for wound dressing, bandages and so on.

“We are also coordinating with other agencies concerning the need to provide urgent food provision to vulnerable communities cut off from food supplies and isolated due to the ongoing military actions.”