German president visits Lutheran Augusta Victoria-Hospital in East Jerusalem

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC
Ecumenical Accompaniers from a World Council of Churches program pray at St. Anne's Basilica in East Jerusalem on Palm Sunday in 2019.

Germany's president has visited the Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH) in East Jerusalem and met patients sent there from the Gaza Strip, the Lutheran World Federation said.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier paid the visit on Nov 27 the day after meeting his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog in Israel when he expressed solidarity with Israel.

Israel is "fighting for its existence," according to Steinmeier, Turkey's Anadolu Agency reported.

He condemned the inhumanity of Hamas, and also endorsed Israel's right to defend itself, saying that Hamas must not be allowed to kill or kidnap Israelis, The Jerusalem Post newspaper reported.

At the same time, Steinmeier was concerned about innocent civilians in Gaza, and noted that Germany has been among those countries supplying them with humanitarian aid.

The Lutheran operated hospital on the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem provides the Palestinian population with specialized treatment for cancer and kidney diseases.


It is the only clinic where the approximately five million Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank can receive radiation therapy said the LWF.

The AVH is the only Palestinian hospital to have a children's dialysis unit.

It cooperates with Al-Ahli Anglican Hospital in Gaza City in the early diagnosis of cancer. German government financial support has been committed was promised, among other things, for the establishment of an early diagnosis center there.


"We welcome the visit of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his wife Elke Büdenbender as an expression of the close relationship of the Augusta Victoria Hospital with Germany," said Maria Immonen, director of LWF World Service, its welfare wing.

"German development funding has been instrumental in enabling the hospital to develop into a comprehensive cancer treatment center."

Since the Hamas attack and the subsequent bombardment of the Gaza Strip, 100 patients including children, and their relatives from Gaza have been stuck in AVH said the LWF.


The hospital is providing accommodation, meals, dignity kits and mental health support during their stay, while the patients remain and are very worried about their families.

The LWF said it is becoming increasingly difficult for patients, doctors and nurses and other hospital staff from the West Bank to reach the hospital. Many patients are currently missing vital chemotherapy, radiation therapy and dialysis treatments.

"The AVH provides essential specialized health services to the Palestinian population," said the LWF's Immonen.

"We are continuing to do so in very challenging circumstances, and will do our utmost to support our patients through this time of crisis."

She said AVH will continue to be part of the core structure of health service provision to Palestinians in the future as well, and the Lutheran World Federation remains committed to the task and is thankful for the support from our partners, such as Germany.

The LWF represents some 75.5 million people from the Lutheran tradition worldwide.

In statements, LWF has condemned the violence on both sides and called for a release of hostages, for a ceasefire, and for humanitarian access to support the civilian population in Gaza.


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