(Photo courtesy of Al Najd Development Forum)

Volunteers wearing Mennonite Central Committee and Al Najd Development Forum vests deliver mattresses to families who opened their homes to other Gazans displaced by the Israel-Hamas conflict. MCC provided $35,000 of bedding and related supplies that were distributed through partner organization Al Najd in late July.

Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) through one of its long-time partners in Gaza, Al Najd Development Forum, provided emergency bedding supplies to about 2,000 displaced people, or 150 households, in east and north Gaza in late July.

The $35,000 project included items such as mattresses, sheets, pillows and plastic mats.

By the fifth week of the most recent Hamas-Israel conflict, BBC reported that the Palestinian death toll had risen above 1,900, the majority civilians. More than 60 Israelis, most of them soldiers, have died.

Earlier in July, MCC and Al Najd completed a $25,000 food distribution of locally purchased items to 230 families in Gaza. MCC is assessing a potential further food response.

Additional needs abound in Gaza, according to a July 23 report from the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Among these are water and sanitation services. Six sewage pumping stations and 15 wells are not operating, meaning that 1.2 million people, more than two-thirds the population of Gaza, have limited or no access to water and sanitation.

Al Najd is a community-based organization begun by women to provide programs and services for women and their families.

“MCC continues to communicate daily with MCC partner Al Najd in Gaza,” said Joanna Hiebert Bergen, a representative for MCC Palestine and Israel. “They are exhausted, yet work tirelessly to get food and supplies out to families who have had their homes and livelihoods destroyed and often are grieving the loss of relatives as well. … The situation is absolutely desperate. Yet, all of MCC’s partner connections continue to work to assist those most affected.” Hiebert Bergen and her spouse, Dan Bergen, also an MCC representative, are from Winnipeg, Man.

In July, MCC joined 33 other organizations in calling for “a ceasefire and sustained solution towards peace.” The statement and signatories can be found at mcc.org/callforceasefire.

MCC is accepting funds for its ongoing work in Gaza. People may give online at donate.mcc.org/cause/gaza-response, by calling 1-888-563-4676 or by sending their donation to MCC U.S., 21 South 12th Street, Akron, PA 17501, specifying “Gaza response.”

J. Daryl Byler, former MCC representative in the region with his spouse, Cindy Lehman Byler, is facilitating monthly gatherings this year in the U.S. with churches and groups who want to explore paths to peace in Palestine and Israel. Byler is now executive director for Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, Harrisonburg, Va. For more information about “Conversations for Peace,” contact SusanWenger@mcc.org, 717-859-1151. To learn of additional ways to respond to the conflict, visit the MCC U.S. Washington Office at mcc.org/advocate-gaza.

MCC has worked with partners in Palestine for more than 60 years and with partners in Israel for more than 40 years. MCC opposes violence against all people who live in the region and is committed to walking with Palestinian and Israeli partners as they continue to address root causes in working for justice, peace and reconciliation for all.