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Station 2

Bearing Witness

We have arrived at Dar al-Shifa ("House of Healing") Hospital in Gaza City. It was the largest medical complex in Gaza, housing a range of modern facilities, equipment, and expertise.

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Several chiefs of medical departments died in various bombings around the hospital in November. Israel raided the hospital on November 15. Shifa was trashed and equipment totaled after these raids and has not been operational since then. 

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Being here reminds us of the many other hospitals that have been bombed, raided, and destroyed, patients kicked out, supplies blocked, and medical personnel targeted. Places of healing transmogrified into death traps. 

We are also mindful of the other institutions and infrastructures whose purposes are health and healing. The Abdul Salam Yassin Water Company is a Palestinian company providing clean water–one of their major facilities burned to the ground in November, they are now operating at a fraction of their capacity in a small foothold in Rafah. 

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As we pause to pray in the shadows of al Shifa, our job is to bear witness, pushing away the media narratives, the ideological tropes, and the stereotypes to open our eyes afresh to what we see before us.

Prayers

Simple Needs

Lord, we see…

 

Most of the hospitals are empty shells.

the result of our nation’s shells.

White-wrapped bodies, with crimson plumes. 

A child thrown on a lifeless body, weeping, kissing the face of mom or dad or brother or sister now gone,

A doctor, covered in dust from the bomb that removed a hospital wall, using what is available to remove a girl's leg. There is no anesthetic.

Healing itself is being destroyed.

 

The camera lens is not a sufficient witness.

 

We will bear witness, speak the pain, tell the cruelty, see the world that should be there. 

 

We bring our bodies here as public reminder to ourselves that Gaza has a right to our attention. 

We bring our bodies to remind one another, if no one else sees, that these things are so. 

And we bring our bodies before you, Lord, along with our grief, and plead with you to break down walls of resistance to the simple needs of human beings. Medicine. Food. Water. With this mustard seed of faith we ask you to move the mountain of indifference and vicious nationalism to allow your children even the basics of life. Please, God. Please.

We are grateful to John Trott for writing this liturgy and being the first to offer it as a prayer.

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On February 28, Israeli soldiers fired on crowds of hungry Palestinians gathered around aid trucks waiting for flour. 118 Palestinians were killed.

From Sabeel Wave of Prayer, March 8, 2024. 

 

Lord, you tell us that you are the “Bread of Life” (John 6:35). We come before you, shocked, disgusted, and lost. We plead that you provide the people of Gaza their daily bread while so many are starving. Lord, intervene and stop these atrocities which kill people even as they wait for aid.

From Jewish Prayers for Gaza, prayersforgaza.com

 

El male rachamim shochen bam’romim
ha’metzei menucha nechonah
tachat kanfei ha’shechinah.

 

Oh, God filled with compassion,
whose loving presence ever surrounds us
bring perfect rest to those
who have been killed without pity in Gaza,
 

Receive their souls with the fullness of your mercy.
bind them to the souls of their ancestors
whose lives were unjustly taken
during the dispossession of the Nakba –
an injustice that continues
even as we call out to you now.

 

Remind us that no one is forgotten in your sight,
that all are welcome at your side,
that each and every one of their lives
is a story of sacred worth and meaning
that can never be lost.
 

V’nomar,
and let us say,
Amen.

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