Page last updated at 08:29 GMT, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Gaza clinic destroyed in strike

Remains of the clinic (Photo: Christian Aid)
Nobody was hurt, in part because the clinic was closed (Photo: Christian Aid)

The charity Christian Aid says a clinic for mothers and babies in Gaza, which it funds along with the EU, has been destroyed in an Israeli air strike.

The clinic, which was run by the Near East Council of Churches, was struck by a missile after a 15-minute warning was sent to the building's owners.

Hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of medical equipment was destroyed by the strike, which happened on Saturday.

Nobody was injured in the attack, in part because the clinic was closed.

The NECC said security concerns had forced it to close the clinic on Tuesday.

Palestinian medical officials say more than 900 Palestinians have been killed since Israel's military offensive on the Gaza Strip began on 27 December. The UN says more than 40% of those killed have been women and children.

Israeli authorities say 13 Israelis have died, three of them civilians.

'Bloody atmosphere'

Christian Aid said the destroyed clinic, which was located in a two-storey building in the Shujaiya district of Gaza City, provided free primary healthcare to the local community, including mother and child clinics, neo-natal care, family planning.

The whole clinic lies in ruins... This just underlines how critical an immediate ceasefire is to stop this destruction
Janet Symes
Christian Aid

It also included a laboratory for medical tests and a small dispensary.

On Saturday evening, the building's owners received a telephone call from the Israeli military telling to evacuate within 15 minutes, Christian Aid said.

The family living in the apartment on the floor above the clinic managed to get out just before a warning shot was fired by an Israeli air force jet, it added.

Moments later, the building - which the charity said was clearly marked with the insignia of the Red Cross and had ambulances parked outside - was struck by a missile fired by the aircraft.

The clinic was completely destroyed in the attack, along with valuable medical equipment, including ultrasound machines, laboratory apparatus, and computers, which are not freely available in Gaza.

Ambulance parked outside the clinic (Photo: Christian Aid)
Marked ambulances had been parked outside the clinic (Photo: Christian Aid)

Constantine Dabbagh, executive director of the NECC in Gaza, said another of its clinics had been closed for two weeks because the owners of a neighbouring building had received repeated warnings from the Israeli military that it was about to be bombed.

"The world needs to wake up and stop this. They need to wake up and end the siege and the occupation," said Mr Dabbagh. "Then there will be some time for peace and reconciliation."

"Otherwise, this bloody atmosphere will continue."

Janet Symes of Christian Aid, who visited the clinic last year said: "It was standing room only as so many mothers had brought their babies and small children for check-ups or treatment".

"Now the whole clinic lies in ruins. All the equipment is destroyed. This just underlines how critical an immediate ceasefire is to stop this destruction."

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