Rania Elhilou, ANERA's communications officer in Gaza

Crisis in Gaza 2014, A Daily Journal

July 27th, 2014 by ANERA

Here are some words from our communications officer in Gaza, Rania Elhilou, who has asked that we share what she is going through.

Keep in mind that her story is just one from hundreds of thousands of ordinary people in Gaza who are fearing for their lives every day during this latest bombardment from Israel.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

After the ceasefire officially ended, the shelling began again. It’s the particularly scary type – random and arbitrary. It seems to be coming right now from the east. Our apartment lies between the middle area and the sea and you could say we are at the gateway into the city. So we feel very vulnerable. No one is safe. Many hospitals and clinics have been bombed. Journalists and emergency relief staff have been killed.

In the meantime, it’s the eve of Eid. I was just remembering last year. I went out onto streets packed with people and filled with the holiday spirit. I shopped for our big meal and bought sweets and a new dress for Joudy.

When it gets dark, we just let it be dark.

Now, the streets are totally empty of people. There is no one. And there is no electricity. I look out my window and I see no lights in the neighborhood. When it gets dark, we just let it be dark. We don’t use candles because, with four children in the house, we are afraid that an accident could too easily happen. There is no light and no hope.

Recently I have noticed that the three preschool-aged children in our apartment are using some unusual vocabulary: ceasefire, truce, treaties, etc. They can distinguish between an immediate truce and a long-term ceasefire. They are prematurely aging. Despite our best efforts, they are becoming aware of the bigger world around them – a frightening world that is outside their parents’ control. As a mother, it’s terrible to feel slipping away from you the ability to give your children a sense of security and protection.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Today, during the 12-hour ceasefire, people went out on the streets and did errands. Kids were on bikes. All of a sudden, despite all the terrible destruction everywhere, I saw something hopeful in those streets that temporarily came alive.

Today was the first time I saw my parents in 20 days. 

We have had our Iftar. It’s still quiet outside. Today was the first time I saw my parents in 20 days. They have been at my brother’s – just 5 minutes away. My mother and I had warm hugs, as did the kids. I want to say that I was happy to see her, but when I dug inside myself for the emotion, I realized that wasn’t on the list of what was available to me anymore. Happiness is gone. Instead, what I felt was relief that she’s still alive. We were only there for a half hour. And when we parted from each other, we both wondered if we’d ever see each other again.


Friday, July 25, 2014

Every time I write this journal, I want to start it with, “I’m still alive.” We survived another day. Nothing ever gets any better. We wait and wait for crumbs of positive news, any hint that a ceasefire may come, but there is nothing. Meanwhile, we’re crammed into the apartment and can’t go out. We heard on the news that some mosques have been bombed during Friday prayers.

This is a time when we have to come together and take care of each other.

My aunt called to say that she has allowed displaced people from Shaja’ya to camp out in her backyard. She said they were in need of everything and wondered if we had some clothes we could donate. I put together a bag of things and was able to find a taxi to drive it over to her place. This is a time when we have to come together and take care of each other.

The electricity situation continues to be terrible. I have noticed that there are about 8 wires now that are strung from our building over to the one next door. This is to share with our neighbors the meager couple of hours of power that we get from our generator. We are the lucky ones. Most people have zero power. The power plant isn’t supplying it and fuel for generators is nearly impossible to find. I have now started using the battery from the car for recharging the phone. I don’t know how long we can go on before we don’t even have two hours of precious power.

You know what I just realized? It’s Sobhi’s and my seventh wedding anniversary today. Normally this would be an extended weekend of celebration. We would have done something nice to celebrate our special day and then we would have enjoyed our Eid on Monday with our families. But there is nothing to celebrate. We are perpetually in mourning.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Things are still really bad here. We keep hearing about the heavy destruction in the north, south and east. I continue to hear the bombs as I write this. We had a HUGE explosion near our place yesterday. And we have also heard that an UNRWA school, where people were taking refuge, was hit. 17, so far, are known to have died from that one attack.

I can now see people from my window the displaced people from the Shaja’ya neighborhood, the one in the east so heavily bombed. They have nowhere to go and are walking up and down our street.

I think this may be the worst bombardment we have ever had, even worse than in 2008-09.

Yesterday we heard this little announcement on the radio about an upcoming 5-day humanitarian ceasefire, but when we cross-checked different news sources, we could find nothing. It was a phantom story. Instead, we heard that the ground incursion will widen. I think this may be the worst bombardment we have ever had, even worse than in 2008-09.

There is no electricity coming from the power plant at the moment. As I wrote earlier, it was badly bombed and those who might be able to make repairs are afraid to go to the facility. We were lucky to have our two hours of electricity from the generator last evening, during Iftar. Otherwise we live in the dark.

Last night Joudy, my five-year-old, said she didn’t want to go to sleep, that she was afraid. She has never actually said that word before. So I laid down with her and said, “Let’s close our eyes at the same time and imagine something happy we did together before all this began…”

Rania and her daughter Joudy visiting the beach in Gaza during a happier time.

Rania and her daughter Joudy visiting the beach in Gaza during a happier time.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

When the lights come on we all rush to the outlets to plug in our cell phones to get charged up while we can.

Gaza’s main power plant was bombed and badly damaged. This has made an already bad situation worse. Now most people are without electricity entirely. Some, like in my building, are lucky enough to have a little fuel for their generators and therefore a couple hours of electricity a day. When the lights come on we all rush to the outlets to plug in our cell phones to get charged up while we can.

We still are able to listen to the news on our battery-operated radio. And it’s not good. UN schools are filled with people displaced from their homes. Hospitals are overwhelmed with the injured and low on supplies. Innocent people are getting killed all the time. I keep hoping for news of a ceasefire, but there is nothing.

One thing that is giving me strength is the work that ANERA has been able to do. My colleagues are braving dangerous conditions to go to our warehouse and to coordinate delivery of food and medicines at a time when they are desperately needed. It really means a lot to be part of an organization and a team that can make positive things happen in the face of so much adversity.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Well, I am so glad we decided to come back to our apartment. Near my brother-in-law’s building, which we left a couple days ago, there were very big exposions and we have learned that some of the windows in his place have been blown in. There is also damage to his balcony. I know I keep saying it, but no place is safe.

I even heard on the radio that a cemetery was bombed. Even our dead are not safe!

She said she literally had to walk over dead bodies to get away.

Today I wrote a story about ANERA’s distribution of food parcels to 500 families in Khan Younis and Rafah. I talked by phone with a couple different families and learned about the tragedies they are suffering. One woman talked about fleeing from their homes so quickly that they didn’t have time to put on shoes and they all scattered in different directions. She said she literally had to walk over dead bodies to get away.

The bombings continue just as intensively as ever. There was supposed to be a humanitarian ceasefire today from 9 to 3, but I don’t think it happened. The bombs just kept on coming. You know, we are becoming experts in diagnosing the sounds of bombs. We can tell what type is falling by the noise it makes. We also know what they hit by the sound of the explosion. Oh, that was a car. That hit a house. That one was a big building. We are acquiring some strange knowledge.

In one kind oddly bright piece of news, a local church has opened its doors as a refuge to all who are fleeing from their homes. Muslims and Christians are feeling their brotherhood. We are bonded over this and I, as a Muslim, feel it’s a very powerful and meaningful thing.

My daughter just ran over to tell me tell me something funny and she made me laugh. At these precious moments I think about how my emotions have been frozen by this terrible thing that is befalling us. You should see my face. It’s pale and expressionless. I stay stoic and strong for the children, but I know that this is not healthy for me. Sometimes when they are getting some rest I wish I could cry. I feel my heart crying but no tears ever come out of my eyes.


Monday, July 21, 2014

A few minutes ago there was a massive explosion right near our building. I heard on the news that some boys were playing soccer on the roof and they were killed.

We’re getting no rest at all. Things are changing and moving all the time and we are trying to keep up with it all.

This morning we smelled the smoke coming from Shaja’ya, the neighborhood that has been intensively bombed and is burning. I also have heard that phosphorous bombs are being dropped again, like in 2009.

Anyone can be killed at any time.

We feel that no one is safe. No one. There were reports that a clinic serving 200,000 people got bombed and doctors were killed as they treated the wounded. Doctors, journalists, mothers, children. Anyone can be killed at any time.

In the meantime, my children continue to scream through the night. My baby cannot be consoled. My five-year-old wants to sleep facing me and in my arms. She doesn’t want me to be out of her sight.

We are now 12 people hunkered down in the center of our apartment. My brother-in-law and his family have now come to us. The journalists in our building managed to get enough fuel to run the generators for a couple hours each day. So you see, we go back and forth between their apartment and ours. Back and forth we go, trying to guess where we might be safest or where we might be able to get a little electricity or water to sustain us.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

The sky was lit up with flames. I keep hearing reports of the dead and injured.

I feel like every day I say that the last 24 hours were the worst so far. You think it couldn’t get worse and then it does. Last night was really bloody and scary. There was heavy targeting of Shaja’ya, a neighborhood in the northeast of Gaza. The area was cut off and even ambulances couldn’t get in, despite the urgent requests of the ICRC. The sky was lit up with flames. I keep hearing reports of the dead and injured. Over 60 people so far have been found dead and there will certainly be more in the rubble of the houses. Hundreds of people have camped out in front of Al Shifa Hospital. They have lost members of their families, their homes and possessions. They have no where to go and are desperate. It breaks my heart.

My parents live very close to the affected area. So, when finally there was a brief ceasefire this morning, they left their home and went to my brother’s. Things have to be very, very bad for my parents even to consider moving from one place to another.

In one tiny bit of good news, we were able to get our water tank refilled. So now at least we have drinking water for a while. We have to conserve, though, on using water for cooking and cleaning. We don’t know when we’ll be able to get more.

I’m losing control of my children. Their screaming goes on for much of the night now and I am unable to calm them down. This ground incursion means that the threats and explosions are all around us, coming from every direction. Everyone feels vulnerable and no one knows what’s coming next. Will it be our neighborhood?


Saturday, July 19, 2014

We are back in our apartment. Yesterday we decided to come back in the hopes that the electricity situation would be better here. Our building has a lot of journalists in it and usually there are generators running more than in most other buildings. But we returned to find that the situation is no better than at my brother-in-law’s. There is no fuel for running the generators.

All day my husband has been calling the water supplier to get water delivered.

Without electricity, water can’t be pumped to our apartment. All day my husband has been calling the water supplier to get water delivered. It’s summertime. It’s very hot and we have about one day’s supply at our place. It is rapidly becoming our top concern. The little stores around the area that everyone relies on for basics are running out of everything.

Now we are debating about what to do. Do we go back to my brother-in-law’s? The reason is he is nearer to the main road, so if we need to evacuate quickly, it would be easier from his place than from ours. There’s also a little more water there – though for how long, who knows?

We’ve packed a small suitcase with some essentials. It’s ready by the door. Joudy, our daughter, asked “Where are we traveling to, mama?” If only…


Friday, July 18, 2014

One of my worst fears from the beginning of these bombings has come true: there is now a ground incursion into Gaza. We are being hit from three sides – north, east and west. Last night the shelling from the sea was particularly intense. Somehow those bombs feel more random and so they are much more frightening to us.

We heard on the radio that 80% of the electricity grid has been destroyed.

We heard on the radio that 80% of the electricity grid has been destroyed. Since no one can go out right now, it is impossible to do any repair work. Not having electricity means that we also will be running out of water, because our apartment buildings rely on electricity to pump the water into the apartments. Normally we might call a water tanker truck to come and fill our water tank on the roof of the building, but it also is not safe for them to go out.

So, now in addition to everything else, we are worried that we are going to run out of water. We have enough for 3 or 4 days, but then what?

One thing that has given me strength through all of this is the amazing outpouring of love and support I have gotten from relatives, friends and colleagues from outside of Gaza. People have been keeping in touch with me in every way they can find and I feel less isolated because of it. I thank you all for sharing these updates and for caring about what Gaza’s people are suffering through. Pray for us.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Well, I am still at my brother-in-law’s house for the time-being. The bombs continued last night, but we just had a ‘humanitarian pause’ in the fighting so we could do some errands. I saw a lot of people leaving their homes during these hours. They are going to stock up on food, get money and check in on family. I did not go out. It is hard for me to believe that a ceasefire can be trusted. So I stayed indoors. We cleaned, bathed and watched some news while we had a little electricity. We also were able finally to sleep some.

Time has lost all meaning for me.

Time has lost all meaning for me. I have to think – this is Thursday, it’s the 20th day of Ramadan and the 9th day of bombings. I am exhausted to the core and find that my mind isn’t working very well. Like the words I am writing now are not easy to find.

In the past few nights, our 5-year-old has been waking up screaming several times throughout the night. She screams, then she goes right back to sleep. It’s like she is storing the fear she feels all the time and lets it out in these bursts she can’t control. Will she ever recover from the psychological wounds she is suffering?


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

At midnight we evacuated our house. From the building behind ours, women and children were streaming out crying and in a panic. We yelled to them from our window and found out that someone had gotten a call from the Israelis saying that the building should be evacuated. When that happens, you have :58 seconds to get out before the bombs start falling.

It is hard for me to find words to describe how it felt to be running from our apartment and making a split-second decision about what to take with us. 

 It is hard for me to find words to describe how it felt to be running from our apartment and making a split-second decision about what to take with us. Or how it felt to think that we might never see any of our things again or this place that holds so many special memories for our family.

We rushed on foot to my brother-in-law’s apartment, holding our children and our few bags. When we got there, we watched the news carefully to find out if our area was bombed. Thankfully it wasn’t. Turns out that the whole thing was a terrible misunderstanding.

In more peaceful times, I remember going through emergency drills with all of these unfathomable scenerios. But I just experienced it for real: I had to leave my home fully believing I’d likely never see it again. At least it’s still there. For many in Gaza, the worst has happened and their homes and family are gone.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Today should should have been a day of celebration in our family. My husband’s niece got the highest score – 99.7% – out of all of Palestine on her Tawjihi [exam at the end of high school]. My colleagues also have children who did really well. But I heard someone say that our happiness today is courted by sadness and death. This is a perfect description of how we are feeling as the bombs continue to fall.

From 9 to 2 today, we had some peace, while there was talk of a ceasefire. We didn’t exactly sleep, but we got a little respite from the terror we’ve been experiencing. Now the bombs are back and my husband and I are having a serious conversation about what we should do in the case of a ground incursion. We think we may need to leave our home. But where do we go? Where is safe?

As I write this, my daughter is asking if she can put on a dress and go outside to play with her friends. Such a simple request! But doing the simplest things now look like bold acts of courage – or lunacy.



A building in Gaza struck by an Israeli bomb. Photographer, Mohammed Zaanoun

A building in Gaza struck by an Israeli bomb. Photographer, Mohammed Zaanoun

Monday, July 14, 2014

Yesterday, there were bombings in a nearby neighborhood where my brother-in-law and his family live. They had to leave their home and have sought refuge here with us. We all keep listening to the radio, hoping for some news of a ceasefire but up to now, there is nothing, just bombs falling all the time, day and night.

I have no words to describe what is happening here. How do I answer my daughter’s questions, why this is happening to us. She is only 5  and already she has lived through so much. What can I say to her? I try to keep her busy but the bombings never stop and she’s scared.

We call around to check on our friends and family and  my colleagues from work but what can we say to each other? The number of deaths and injuries keep rising.

Everyone is exhausted. I feel hopeless and helpless, wondering what will happen to my life and my children.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

When I spoke with my parents today, they told me they were seeing scores of families walking past their house. They are fleeing from their homes in northern Gaza, because they got warnings from the Israelis that the whole area will be targeted. It is unclear where they are all going. I have heard that UNRWA is opening up 8 of their schools for people to get shelter.

We’ve had no sleep for 7 days.

Things feel even scarier now. We have heard that 2 UN humanitarian coordinators were not allowed to pass into Gaza today and that the US embassy has asked all Americans to leave Gaza immediately. Will there now be no international witnesses to the things that are happening to us here?

We’ve had no sleep for 7 days. Yesterday was really intense: there were bombings from the sea and air and I also heard the sounds of rockets launching. I see smoke billowing from the middle area and beaches of Gaza. A house on my brother’s block was bombed yesterday. 

We always live ready to flee in a second. Our bags packed with passports, money and valuables. We never change into pajamas – ready to go outdoors or to meet God.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

I can hear explosions as I write this. They are so close, the furniture rattles and the lamps shake. It’s like I am living in a horror movie. You know, I have impacted wisdom teeth and I was supposed to have an operation last week (which I had to cancel because of the bombings). But the terror I am experiencing every day now is actually making me forget the pain of the wisdom teeth that was so excruciating before the bombs began.

We are glued to the radio, where we are now learning of medical facilities that are being targeted by bombs. Can you imagine, now we can’t even feel safe going to a hospital?

Rania-and-JoudyIt feels like there is no end in sight. We are not hearing of any ceasefires. In the meantime the crossings and borders into Gaza are only sporadically open. Very little food or fuel is coming in. The damage is really extensive – to farmland, buildings and a lot of other infrastructure.

We’ve been getting about 6 hours of electricity a day, but yesterday ours went off after 2 hours because a bomb apparently hit some infrastructure that delivered it to our place. We now camped out in the center of our apartment, as far away from the windows as possible. Flying glass causes the most injuries.

I keep thinking about the fact that Gaza was already in a terrible state before these bombings. Unemployment was high, food aid was common, people were living in poverty. So you can imagine how much worse it is now. 

My daughter has been through three of these bombardments – first in my womb in 2008-09, then in 2012 and now in 2014. I can see the question marks in her eyes. What do I tell her? Is there an adequate word to describe this situation?

Thank goodness for ANERA. I know I am working for an organization that is actually doing something to help people. It gives my life meaning.


Friday, July 11, 2014

I keep thinking, who is paying for this desire for blood and retribution? The children, that’s who.

Well, we’re alive. It was another terrible night. The park behind our apartment building was bombed and the explosion rocked the whole area. The noise was deafening. There isn’t a single street in Gaza that’s safe. I keep thinking, who is paying for this desire for blood and retribution? The children, that’s who.

This, of course, means constant worry and no rest for parents. Last night our chidren were really anxious and couldn’t sleep.

This morning we saw we are really low on milk. My husband ventured out to a nearby store. While he was away my heart pounded with worry and I watched for him every second he was away. Turns out that the errand was all for nothing, as the store is out of milk. Now we have to find other options for feeding our baby.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

For the third day the bombings have been incessant. I haven’t been getting any sleep and, last night, the kids didn’t. I hear explosions constantly.

I do my best to keep the children busy with with activities, to get their minds off of what’s going on outside our building. We play games, color, read stories. I want to make sure their fear doesn’t turn into trauma. I am not sure where I am getting the strength to hide my fear and play games – maybe it’s because I feel that the children are more important than anything else.

In the meantime, here it is Ramadan, our most spiritual time. It’s supposed to be a beautiful time of reflection and peace. But now, in Gaza, people are taking their first sip of water to break their long day of fasting while bombs are falling all around them.





A building in Gaza struck by an Israeli bomb. Photographer, Mohammed Zaanoun

Crisis in Gaza 2014, ANERA Response Log

July 27th, 2014 by ANERA

Thanks to a dedicated and generous community of donors, ANERA’s Gaza staff is able to respond quickly to the crisis that the intensive bombings are causing in their communities.

ANERA is one of the few international organizations that consistently gets health care and humanitarian relief supplies into Gaza. Since our Gaza office opened in 1984, ANERA has built or renovated infrastructure, linked homes to drinkable water sources, provided jobs, and delivered medicines to hospitals. Our networks are extensive and our staff is deeply committed to helping their fellow Palestinians in Gaza.

This log will be updated regularly to provide an ongoing report back to donors on the ways ANERA is responding during this current crisis.


July 27, 2014 |Streets too unsafe again

Staff were asked to stay indoors today, as streets are unsafe for travel after yesterday’s ceasefire ended and bombs started falling again. In the meantime, they have been making calls to vendors in Gaza to arrange procurement of more relief items, like dignity kits for women and food parcels


July 26, 2014 |Antibiotics shipment gets through crossing into Gaza

ANERA got a shipment of 24,366 vials of the antibiotic Ceftriaxon through the Karem Shalom crossing today. The medicine was purchased in the West Bank with funds from ANERA donors. ANERA staff took advantage of the 12-hour ceasefire and immediately delivered the life-saving medicine to Gaza’s largest hospital.


July 25, 2014 |More food parcels purchased

With money that was donated over the past week, ANERA’s staff in Gaza has been able to purchase 2,000 food parcels, containing:

  • Hummus
  • Foul
  • Two types of cheese
  • A variety of meats
  • Jam
  • Halva
  • Date syrup
  • Tuna fish
  • Bottled water

Over the next two days, we will be distributing these parcels in Gaza City in locations where displaced families have been taking refuge.


July 24, 2014 |New shipment cleared at port

A big shipment of medicines and medical supplies has just cleared through the border thanks to ANERA’s West Bank team. This AmeriCares donation of antibiotics, penicillin, and syringes is valued at over $500,000. Clearing a shipment of this size during this difficult time is an important achievement. All the difficult logistical work done by our Gaza warehouse staff means we will have the space and capacity to receive and distribute this new shipment and more thereafter. 


July 23, 2014 |Antibiotics delivered to hospital

ANERA delivered 5,500 vials of life-saving antibiotics to Gaza’s largest surgical hospital. Staff in ANERA’s Gaza warehouse continue to organize and prepare a very large shipment of medicines and medical supplies for delivery to various hospitals and medical facilities.

ANERA's Gaza pharmacist and warehouse manager, Mostafa Al Ghosain, delivers 5,500 vials of life-saving antibiotics to Gaza's largest surgical hospital.

Mostafa Al Ghosain delivers life-saving antibiotics to Gaza’s largest surgical hospital.


July 22, 2014 |Staff working at warehouse

Despite very dangerous conditions, ANERA staff went to our Gaza City warehouse today and began readying cases of medicines and medical supplies for distribution to hospitals. Coordination also began on delivering thousands of vials of Ceftriaxone (an antibiotic in extremely short supply) to Gaza’s largest hospital. Unfortunately, the delivery has been delayed until tomorrow – the teams that ANERA usually works with to distribute medicines are either overwhelmed or can’t risk the danger of going out on to the streets.

A Gaza father signs up for ANERA's emergency food parcels during Gaza war.

A Gaza father signs up for ANERA’s emergency food parcels during Gaza war.


July 21, 2014 |Food parcels going to the south

Gaza staff dispatched food parcels for 500 families in the Khan Younis and Rafah areas. ANERA used recent donations to purchase the desperately needed parcels at the end of last week. 


July 19-20, 2014 |With streets unsafe for any travel, staff remain in their homes

Staff were asked to stay indoors as streets remain unsafe during the ground invasion. There are 500 boxes of food and 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies in our Gaza warehouse ready for immediate distribution as soon as conditions allow it. So far the “humanitarian pauses” in violence have been too short to carry out any form of delivery.


Friday, July 18, 2014 |ANERA staff have been asked to stay home

A number of our Gaza staff were intent on going to the ANERA warehouse to continue preparing 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies for distribution. However, because of increased danger from the recent ground invasion, they were asked to stay off the streets today.

ANERA has 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies in our Gaza warehouse ready for distribution as soon as conditions allow it.

ANERA has 600 boxes of medicines and medical supplies in our Gaza warehouse ready for distribution as soon as conditions allow it.


Thursday, July 17, 2014 |Antibiotics receive Ministry of Health approval

ANERA got immediate approval from the Ministry of Health in Ramallah to purchase 29,866 vials of Ceftrixone from the West Bank for delivery into Gaza. This is a life-saving antibiotic used during emergency surgeries that is virtually unavailable in Gaza. Staff in Gaza, who have not taken a break since the bombing began, took advantage of the 6-hour ceasefire to rest and buy supplies for their families. 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014 |Purchasing antibiotics, food parcels and hygiene kits

Donations in recent days have allowed ANERA to make an immediate purchase of antibiotics, food parcels and hygiene kits. Our West Bank staff are coordinating the procurement of these items. We also have a large AmeriCares shipment (valued at $545,000) of medicines and surgical supplies that has been cleared and is ready to enter Gaza. In the meantime, our Gaza staff continues to coordinate distribution of medicines already in our Gaza City warehouse.


Tuesday, July 15, 2014 |Preparing for another large distribution of medical supplies

ANERA staff is hard at work in our Gaza warehouse preparing and organizing a large quantity of donated health care supplies and medicines for distribution to hospitals throughout Gaza. Most hospitals have dangerously low stocks of antibiotics and painkillers, which account for a large portion of these supplies.

An ANERA warehouse staff member in Gaza moves one of many pallets of health care supplies and medicines.

An ANERA warehouse staff member moves one of many pallets of health care supplies and medicines, donated by AmeriCares.


Monday, July 14, 2014 | Medicines to Gaza’s largest hospital, food parcel distribution complete

ANERA provided Gaza’s biggest hospital with a large quantity of medicines and medical supplies. Hospital staff tell us that their most urgently needed medicines are antibiotics for post surgery treatment – thankfully antibiotics are part of our next distribution which is being prepared and organized in our Gaza warehouse today. At this point all Ramadan food parcels have been distributed to families throughout Gaza.


Sunday, July 13, 2014 | Large shipment of medicines and medical supplies received in warehouse

Braving very dangerous conditions, ANERA’s staff received in our Gaza City warehouse a large shipment of emergency health care supplies including gauze, syringes, surgical gloves, sutures, bandages and medicines. Donated by AmeriCares and valued at $1,394,000, the supplies are quickly being readied for distribution to hospitals with dangerously depleted stocks.

With funding from the Zakat Foundation, ANERA provided food parcels to hundreds of families in Gaza City.

One father picks up a parcel of food from ANERA filled with necessities like cooking oil, beans and pasta.


Saturday, July 12, 2014 | Ramadan food parcels distributed

From ANERA’s Gaza office director, Nahed Al-Wehaidi: “I have just arrived home safely after having given out all the food parcels to our local partners in Deir Balah, Gaza city, and Beit Lahia. Our Deir Balah partner started the distribution to families as soon as I arrived, as the situation is getting worst there in terms of safety/security. The other 2 partners will start the distribution tomorrow.”


Friday, July 11, 2014 | Preparing Ramadan food parcels

Hundreds of Ramadan food parcels are being prepared by ANERA staff in Gaza. Each package contains a variety of essentials like tahini, tuna, sugar, tea, macaroni, lentils and other beans, tomato paste, rice, juice, cheese, and cooking oil. All of the food was purchased locally. Distribution is set to begin tomorrow after a delay due to the current violence.

Ambulance at ANERA’s Gaza City warehouseloads up with medicines such as antibiotics and painkillers for treating the huge influx of wounded people.

Ambulance picking up medicines at ANERA’s Gaza city warehouse.


Thursday, July 10, 2014 | Distribution of urgent medicines

Ambulances arrived at ANERA’s warehouse on Thursday and were loaded with urgently needed medicines such as antibiotics and painkillers for treating the huge influx of wounded people. The medicines, donated by Direct Relief and valued at $1,444,000, were delivered to 6 hospitals and clinics around Gaza. This is one of the first deliveries of medicines to health care facilities in Gaza during the current crisis.  


Lebanon hospitals identified the first case of the deadly Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus in May and the topic of controlling the spread of infections in hospitals has become a priority. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society’s (PRCS) Hamshari Hospital is not taking any chances.

30,000 surgical face masks for Lebanon’s PCRS hospitals to prevent spread of infection. 

Mounir El-Hajj Khalil is responsible for control of infections in the hospital, located in Saida in southern Lebanon. He lists several key steps nurses are taking to preventing the spread of germs: isolation of the patient, hand washing and wearing personal protective equipment like facemasks.

Health masks are expensive and the hospital can’t normally afford to purchase them, Mounir says. But, thanks to an AmeriCares donation of nearly 30,000 particulate respirator surgical face masks, 11,200 of which went to Hamshari Hospital, Mounir has been able to ensure this critical step in controlling the spread of infectious diseases is taken.

Working with long-time partner Health Care Society (HCS), ANERA delivered the in-kind shipment in the Spring of 2014 to Hamshari and other PRCS hospitals. Now every department of Hamshari Hospital has a box of the masks, along with instructions on how best to use them.

Lebanon: Hamshari hospital nurse wears new protective masks to help prevent spread of infection.

Nurses wear new protective masks and gloves to prevent spread of infection.

HCS Executive Director Bahija Mayassi underlined the importance of such shipments, “Providing these important items and other medical equipment allows the hospitals to provide access for more patients to quality health services. Our support is critical because the hospitals do not have the financial resources and rely on donations to carry on.”

At Hamshari Hospital, Mounir was grateful for the high quality items. “The N95 facemasks we received are of very good quality. I learned about them during my training on infectious disease control, but this is the first time that I’m actually really using them.”

Mounir started working at Hamshari Hospital in 1999 as a trainee nurse while he completed his studies at Al-Quds Nursing Institute. He joined the staff in 2003 and soon specialized in prevention, monitoring and control of infections.

“There are two cases for which we use the N95 masks:” explains Mounir, “to prevent the spread of a contagious disease like MERS or tuberculosis and to protect patients with low immunity, especially patients with AIDS or leukemia.” Mounir adds, “the masks are essential because they can help block both the entry and exit of germs.”

Cases of tuberculosis are not very common but once or twice a year, Hamshari Hospital receives a patient who needs to be isolated while awaiting transfer to a specialized institute. Mounir explains that patients with low immunity must be protected from any minor infection, which could prove fatal to them. “In these cases, the medical staff and anyone visiting the patient should wear a mask in the patient’s room.”

Mounir trained five head nurses on their correct use and they then trained the hospital’s 78 nurses, so everyone knows how to reduce infection risks.

“If we happen to get a case of MERS, we are ready to deal with it like any other infectious disease,” says Mounir confidently. “Our medical staff is trained to control infectious diseases and now we have what we need to do that.”

Mostafa El-Ghosein, manager of ANERA's in-kind medicine donation program in Gaza.

FAQs | ANERA Response to Gaza Crisis

July 22nd, 2014 by ANERA

How will my donation be used to help Gaza and how soon?

How and why are you able to get things into Gaza so quickly and consistently?

How much of my donation is used to cover ANERA’s overhead?

How do I know I can feel safe donating to ANERA?

How can I help Gaza other than to give donations?

I would like to collect supplies (food, clothes, toys, hygiene supplies, surplus medical disposables, etc.) to send to Gaza. Can ANERA help me get them there?

I want to travel to Gaza to help with humanitarian relief efforts. Can ANERA help me get there?

Why do you sometimes buy medicines on the local market and how do you decide specifically who to buy from?

Why haven’t I ever heard about ANERA?

How can ANERA ensure that donations serve their intended beneficiaries and not parties like Hamas?


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How will my donation be used to help in Gaza and how soon?

With a staff of 20 in Gaza – Palestinians who all come from the communities they serve – ANERA is able to quickly identify areas of need and respond immediately as funds become available. Right from the beginning of the bombardment, ANERA was able to deliver vital medicines and medical supplies as well as food parcels. We expedite our response whenever possible by purchasing relief items in Palestine. We also have a very successful in-kind donation program that delivers millions of dollars worth of medicines and health care supplies. When hostilities cease, ANERA’s engineers will begin the work of rebuilding schools, clinics and water/sanitation networks.

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How and why are you able to get things into Gaza so quickly and consistently?

ANERA has been working in the West Bank and Gaza since 1968. We have had an office in Gaza for 30 years and have shipped things into the area for as long as we have existed. ANERA’s in-kind shipment program follows a clear set of stages that has proven effective every time. Two things stand out: ANERA is excellent with handling all of the logistical paperwork as well as getting clearance and coordination beforehand. We have a professional relationship with the authorities and are transparent in everything we do.

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How much of my donation is used to cover ANERA’s overhead?

ANERA’s overhead is only 3.5%. The costs of ANERA’s programs and expenses vary each year, however we consistently maintain a standard of roughly 96 cents per dollar going directly to program work. For the most recent allocations, please see the financial section of our annual report.

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How do I know I can feel safe donating to ANERA?

Since 1968 we have earned trust by delivering results. ANERA is audited annually and posts financial statements online. We screen funders, partners and program recipients using software to comply with the U.S. Office of Foreign Asset Controls. USAID and other major governmental and institutional donors regularly award ANERA large grants even in delicate locations like Gaza. We are consistently a top-rated organization: 4-star charity with Charity Navigator, A-rated charity with the Institute of Philanthropy and meet every standard of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise-Giving Alliance. Read more about why you can trust ANERA.

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How can I help Gaza other than to give donations?

The extent and reach of our response depend on the amount of donations ANERA receives. The best way for you to help people in Gaza is to spread the word about what is happening there and how ANERA is addressing their needs. Forward our emails, share our Facebook and website postings, retweet our Twitter posts, and/or pass along our newsletters and mail appeals. More people need to be aware of what ANERA is, why we can be trusted, and how we are making a difference. As one of our supporters, you are the best and most credible ANERA advocate in your community of friends, family and colleagues.

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I would like to collect supplies (food, clothes, toys, hygiene supplies, surplus medical disposables, etc.) to send to Gaza. Can ANERA help me get them there?

While we appreciate the thoughtfulness that caring people invest in these collection efforts, for the most part we cannot accept these kinds of donations from individuals. Instead, we encourage people to donate money. This is for multiple reasons:

Volume. ANERA typically sends 20- and 40-foot containers of in-kind materials to the Middle East. This is by far the most cost-effective way to send donated goods as a container can fit a enormous volume of materials and many of our wonderful in-kind donors cover the cost of shipping.

Storage. Some organizations and individuals have asked us if we can include supplies from them in one of the containers we are already planning to ship. Unfortunately, the answer is still no. ANERA does not maintain U.S.-based warehouse space. The containers we send to the Middle East are shipped directly from the warehouses of our in-kind donor partners. For safety and quality control reasons, these donors will not allow ANERA to add donations to their carefully inspected and professionally packed containers.

Speed and Expense. It is a much slower process to bring goods in from abroad rather than to purchase them locally. To do so, ANERA would need to get the customs export and import documentation in order; arrange for and cover the cost of shipping; get the items approved through local authorities (which takes 6 weeks at a minimum); pay for the costs of clearance, storage, demurrage, and transportation to our local warehouse; receive and inventory them in the warehouse; and then finally distribute them. All told, this can cost us upwards of $18,000. With funds in hand, staff can immediately and specifically respond to the needs on the ground as they arise. This approach has the added benefit of supporting the local economy.

ANERA does accept in-kind donations from established organizations, such as AmeriCares, Direct Relief, Lutheran World Relief, and United Methodist Committee on Relief. These are organizations whose business is to send in-kind donations – from medicines and supplies to hygiene kits and baby care items – to the communities that need them most. Having done this work for decades, they have an effective and well-tested set of processes designed to respond specifically to the needs ANERA communicates to them through our on-the-ground staff. Read more about our in-kind work in Gaza.

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I want to travel to Gaza to help with humanitarian relief efforts. Can ANERA help me get there?

Your passion and commitment to help people in Gaza is inspiring and greatly appreciated. It is not feasible for ANERA to support anyone entering Gaza at this time. The borders are closed and anyone entering requires Israeli approval. Furthermore, while relief workers such as ANERA staff would be very moved by your gesture, as your hosts, they would be distracted from their critical work. Your presence would require that they shift energy and effort away from their own families and humanitarian deliveries, to ensure that you are properly trained in the work involved and keep you out of harm’s way. Please, heed our request not to pursue trying to go into Gaza now.

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Why do you sometimes buy medicines on the local market and how do you decide specifically who to buy from?

Typically, most medicines ANERA delivers are donated by reputable organizations, not purchased. In an emergency situations, however, purchasing can be the quickest way to get the medicines to where they are urgently needed. We go to manufacturers in the area, such as Jerusalem Pharmaceutical, to make those purchases and to support the local Palestinian economy.

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Why haven’t I ever heard about ANERA?

ANERA is well known in Palestine, where our programs are having a big impact on people’s lives. In order to maintain our very low fundraising and overhead expenses, we have historically limited our advertising and marketing expenditures. ANERA depends mainly on dedicated supporters to spread the word about our impact and efficiency.

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How can ANERA ensure that donations serve their intended beneficiaries and not parties like Hamas?

ANERA’s policy is to supply assistance to only legitimate and capable institutions and to comply with U.S. laws. We filter individuals and agencies against computerized lists of terrorist organizations cited by the U.S. Treasury Department,  Office of Foreign Assets Control list. Because Hamas is designated as a “terrorist group” by the U.S. State Department, ANERA does not work or even coordinate with them. 


With funding from the Zakat Foundation, ANERA provided food parcels to hundreds of families in Gaza City.

Gaza: Emergency Food Parcels for Displaced

July 22nd, 2014 by lkassman

While bombs rain down on Gaza, ANERA’s in-kind team managed to deliver two shipments of food parcels to Gaza families. The first shipment was distributed in Deir Al Balah, Gaza City, and Beit Lahia. The second went to the southern Khan Younis and Rafah areas.

Mohammad Ghossein, ANERA project officer: “I go out despite the bombing. I keep thinking of people in need. We have to show them that they are not alone.”

With help from the Bayader Society and other local partners, and through word-of-mouth and phone calls, more than 1,000 families were able to pick up the much-needed parcels. Volunteers also risked their own lives to deliver parcels to residents’ homes where it was too dangerous for them to congregate outside.

The funds came from the Zakat Foundation of America and individual donors to respond quickly to emergency needs. ANERA was able to purchase everything locally from different suppliers. These parcels go beyond typical food relief and contain a variety of items such as lentils, macaroni, tuna fish, beans and cooking oil for families to make whole, healthy meals during Ramadan.

ANERA delivers emergency food parcels to 1,000+ families in Gaza.

Mohammad Abu Migbel was grateful for the help as his family’s food supplies were running low. They had evacuated their home because the bombings were so near. “We heard huge explosions and our house was filled with rocks, dust and smoke. So we decided to escape at 11:00pm,” Mohammad explained with a grim look on his face. “We couldn’t wait any longer.”

Gaza youngster helps her family take ANERA's emergency supplies back home.

Gaza youngster helps her family pick up emergency supplies

The 54-year-old father of eight had been injured in the 2009 war, along with five of his family members. “We decided this time to evacuate our home and avoid danger. We went to a relative’s house in nearby Bani Suhaila.” But Mohammad is still worried. “We’re not sure if it’s the right decision because there is no safe place now anywhere.”

He described what it was like when he ventured out to receive ANERA’s food parcel. “The streets are deserted. Stores are closed. And, it dawned us that the people handing out the food parcels are not safe either. So we are doubly grateful.” With 20 family members crammed into one room and food running low, Mohammad was relieved that some aid was available. “The assistance came on time. We really needed it and will use it sparingly.”

Asmahan Fayad, also welcomed the food parcels. She had run barefoot from her home when the bombing started, along with her five children. “We left with nothing. Everyone went in different directions. I lost sight of my husband and ended up sleeping in front of a mosque with my kids.”

Then, she said someone offered them a shelter for few days.”UNRWA schools are overcrowded and I wasn’t sure where to go,”she explained. “My kids wake up at night to ask me if we are still alive. I just try to give them hope. But is this life?”

A Gaza father signs up for ANERA's emergency food parcels during Gaza war.

A Gaza father signs up for ANERA’s emergency food parcels during Gaza war.