CHICAGO, Illinois — On May 20, 2021, Israeli military forces and the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, agreed to a ceasefire after 11 days of conflict. The conflict has resulted in widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip with more than 200 lives lost. As news outlets and humanitarian organizations assess the casualties and the damage, nonprofits, like the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund, find themselves in a prime position to help those whom the conflict has affected most.
A Series of Conflicts
The violent clash between Israel and Hamas is the latest flare-up in a decades-old conflict. Reports indicate that the latest conflict began in Jerusalem when Israeli police blocked off the Damascus Gate, a common gathering place for Arabs during the religious Ramadan period. This sparked protests. Tensions rose even further after Jewish settlers attempted to evict longtime Arab residents of the Sheikh Jarrah area, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
These actions by Israeli police and settlers were followed by back and forth attacks. Arab residents attacked Jewish settlers, Jewish settlers attacked Arab residents. However, after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem, the protests and violence escalated into airstrikes and rocket fire. Only recently has the conflict simmered thanks to a ceasefire agreement between the two groups.
While conflicts in Gaza and the West Bank are not new, this series of repetitive, retaliatory attacks from both the Israeli army and Hamas resulted in more than 200 deaths. Most of these deaths have been concentrated in Gaza. According to the New York Times, a bombing leveled three mosques in Gaza and destroyed 17 hospitals and clinics as well as dozens of schools. The bombing also destroyed Gaza’s only COVID-19 testing laboratory and shut off access to freshwater, electricity and sewer service to much of the region.
The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund
In situations of conflict and destruction, the work of nonprofit organizations like the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund is vital. Founded in 1992, the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund is a U.S.-based nonprofit focused on providing free medical care to sick and injured Palestinian children. On May 17, 2021, its Gaza headquarters were destroyed during the barrage of Israeli airstrikes. Fortunately, no staff members were in the building at the time of the attack. Nevertheless, the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund continues to carry out its mission of providing children in the Middle East with medical care and humanitarian relief.
Since its establishment, the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund has sent more than 2,000 sick and injured children from the Middle East to the United States for free medical care. It has also sponsored volunteer medical teams from all over the world to travel to the Middle East, especially Palestine, in order to help treat sick and injured youth. In 2018 alone, the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund sponsored 83 medical missions. Overall, in 2018, the fund benefited 13,476 people.
The Gaza Amputee Project
The Palestine Children’s Relief Fund’s humanitarian medical work is vital given the injuries children and young adults in Gaza have sustained due to the recent violence. Particularly valuable is the Gaza Amputee Project, which started in 2019 to help provide medical care for children in Gaza who are suffering from congenital or traumatic limb amputations. Many of these children suffer from injuries due to gunshots or bombings in Gaza.
The Fund works with the Hamid Rehabilitation Hospital in Gaza City to help affected children receive care locally. In 2020, the Fund started providing mental health treatment for the children and supported the training of local staff in Hamid Hospital. It also provided the materials and equipment necessary for the care and rehabilitation of the children.
The violence resulting from the Israel-Palestine conflict has been going on for a long time. While there is no guarantee that the conflict will soon come to an end once and for all, humanitarian work provides hope for those affected. The efforts of organizations such as the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund remind the world that, during times of crisis, humanitarian work is indispensable.
– Thomas McCall