COVID-19 update

From late March until early May, movement has been severely restricted in Israel and Palestine. In late April and early May, the Government of Israel announced a relaxation of Israeli restrictions, whereas the state of emergency in the West Bank has been extended for another month. In the Gaza Strip, the mandatory three weeks of quarantine upon return from Jerusalem are still in place.

Tests conducted in early May have confirmed that after a total of 14 cases recorded in April, the Augusta Victoria Hospital is completely COVID 19 free. AVH is therefore slowly moving towards resuming normal operations, while continuing to observe all instructions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. LWF staff and inhabitants in Jerusalem can move back and forth to their workplaces normally, except for those in quarantine due to COVID 19 outbreaks in special areas.

Whereas the LWF vocational training center in Ramallah remains closed, the LWF VTC in Beit Hanina is due to open again in the near future. However, given the fact that many students and teachers are from the West Bank, regular training and classes will not resume before June.

Augusta Victoria Hospital mobilized immediately to respond to the COVID-19, but the necessary preparations and procurement has placed an additional financial burden on the hospital. This is adding to the financial constraints experienced as a result of lower monthly payments from the Palestinian Authority during the COVID-19 crisis.

In the course of May, LWF Jerusalem will continue to monitor the overall conditions in the West Bank and in Israel proper, while resuming operations on a gradual basis, with the hope that it will be back at regular levels in early June.

Continued conflict in Israel and Palestine

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip continues to affect all aspects of life for Palestinians. Access to health services, education, and water resources are all impeded by the restrictions imposed by the occupation. The Oslo Accords celebrated 25 years ago, have failed to create peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

Economic hardship plagues both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where 2017 World Bank estimates put unemployment at 27 percent, with unemployment in the Gaza Strip alone reaching 44 percent. Restrictions on movement and access continue to hamper growth prospects. While humanitarian assistance continues to sustain life in the Palestinian territory, it is evident that the aid programs can never achieve political solutions. These solutions need to be based on the principles of human rights and international law.

Israeli settlement expansion continues on Palestinian land, with over 120 government-sanctioned settlements in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem) and 100 settlements built without official authorization, but with Israeli government support and assistance (known as “illegal outposts”) throughout the West Bank. In 2017 alone, 351 Palestinian structures were demolished by Israel with 528 people being displaced. Since the “Great March of Return” protests in Gaza in March 2018, nearly 20,000 Palestinians have been injured and more than 180 have been killed by the Israeli military.

What we’re doing in Jerusalem program

The LWF has been serving the needs of Palestinian refugees in the Palestinian Territories for some 70 years. As a major Christian presence on the Mount of Olives, we provide access to health rights and quality health services. We also foster sustainable livelihoods by ensuring marginalized groups have increased access to employment opportunities and vocational training. Our work also promotes justice, peace and reconciliation through advocacy, humanitarian and development programs.

Through Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), the LWF provides life-saving health care for Palestinians from across the West Bank and Gaza with services such as radiotherapy for cancer and pediatric hemodialysis that are available nowhere else to these Palestinians.

Responding to community needs and in coordination with the Palestinian Ministry of Health, AVH has centers of excellence including the Comprehensive Cancer Care unit, which caters for chemotherapy, radiotherapy and cancer surgery for adults and children along with the recent introduction of bone marrow transplantation.

The hospital also provides comprehensive treatment and care for diabetes, kidney dialysis, specialty surgery for ear, nose and throat cases, as well as skilled nursing and long-term care expertise. Our health programs reach remote areas throughout the West Bank and facilitate early detection of cancer and diabetes.

Our economic empowerment and vocational training program has worked with Palestinian youth and civil society since 1949. We offer training in automobile repair, carpentry, catering, craft and metalwork, plumbing and central heating, secretarial and telecommunications services. Apprentice training and satellite outreach in remote villages are part of the program.

The LWF programs are operational in East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza. The LWF historic campus, built in 1907 on the Mount of Olives, hosts not only the Augusta Victoria Hospital and other health programs but also the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and other activities of the LWF and its partners.

Updated 26 May 2020

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Resources

Donors and partners

  • ACT Church of Sweden
  • Brot für die Welt/ Bread for the World
  • Canadian Lutheran World Relief (CLWR)
  • Catholic Relief Services
  • Compassion
  • Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI)
  • Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH)
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
  • Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission (FELM)
  • Lutheran World Relief
  • Lutherischer Weltbund-Deutsches Nationalkomittee (LWF-GNC)
  • Norway in Palestine
  • Norwegian Church Aid (NCA)
  • PWRDF
  • UNDP
  • USAID
  • Welfare Association

 

AVH in numbers