By Vatican News staff reporter
There is still no end in sight to the fighting between Israel and Hamas, which has already claimed many lives, including those of children.
Israel on Tuesday carried out a number of airstrikes on, what it said, were militant targets in Gaza.
The bombardment toppled the Kahil building, which contains libraries and educational centres belonging to the Islamic University.
Despite international efforts to halt the violence, Israel continues to hit densely populated civilian areas in response to rocket fire by Hamas.
At least 212 Palestinians have been killed in heavy airstrikes so far, including 61 children and 36 women, with more than 1,400 people wounded. Ten people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier, have been killed.
In light of the current escalation in hostilities, Caritas Internationalis is launching an urgent appeal to bring medical assistance to the population affected by the bombings.
On the ground, Caritas Jerusalem is preparing to respond to the urgent needs of the thousands of wounded and the thousands of people forced to leave their homes.
Describing the situation, Sister Bridget Tighe, secretary general of Caritas Jerusalem said, "The shelling is extremely intense. The people of Gaza have experienced many wars over many years, but everyone agrees that this time is completely different. They are trapped in this densely populated strip of land at the mercy of violent aerial bombardment and with nowhere to flee for safety."
More than two million people live in the Gaza Strip, an area of about 365 square kilometres and from which it is impossible to escape because of the Israeli blockade. People are trying to save themselves by seeking refuge in schools; 17,000 have already found shelter, Sister Tighe said.
Among Palestinians, the victims include a mother and four of her children killed in an airstrike that hit residential buildings in Al Shati refugee camp, near the Caritas clinic, which is currently closed due to repeated attacks on civilians and infrastructure that could affect it.
"The continuous bombings do not yet allow Caritas Jerusalem to intervene, but once a ceasefire takes effect, we will provide outpatient trauma care and essential primary health care in our clinic," Sister Tighe explained.
The same goes for the clinic's mobile units and medical teams. Caritas needs adequate resources to provide medical care, food and other basic necessities to the affected populations in the different areas of the Strip.
Humanitarian crisis risk
The new escalation of hostilities brings with it the risk of a humanitarian crisis. Around 40 thousand Palestinians have been displaced and 2,500 people have lost their homes due to the bombings.