Untold Stories of Gaza : Must read to all Malaysian
Posted by Emg Trading & Services on 20 July, 2010
These are just minor examples of the warm and friendly reception shown by the people of Gaza to Malaysians. I’m not too sure of their reception to volunteers from other countries, but a volunteer from Sudan whom I met spoke well of the hospitality of the Gazans. The friendliness of the people in the Gaza streets is obvious. Just walk along the streets and you’ll get people calling you out. Assalamualaikum (peace be with you) is the greeting you get everywhere you go.
A group of young men in a wedding procession that passed by Al-Quds Hospital stopped their cars and asked me to take their photographs.
A few others on motorcycles waved and slowed down to have their pictures taken, too.
For a population under siege, they aren’t as unhappy as some may suggest. Perhaps they are angry more than anything else. Angry that they are being isolated and denied international freedom of movement, access to world trade and, in many instances, humanitarian aid.
The fishermen of Gaza used to be able to go out six nautical miles from their shores to fish. Now, the Israeli defence forces have enforced a three nautical mile limit. It used to be 20 nautical miles some years ago. The Gaza International Airport has been non-operational since 2002. Access to Gaza is now confined to a few border crossings, with Rafah being the most active.
Even then, the Malaysian Red Crescent Society volunteers had to stress it out in Cairo for four days, submitting document after document before being allowed in. We were told that we could enter Gaza on July 12, but a set of new rules was introduced forcing us to resubmit our application .
Dr Mai Aref, the deputy secretarygeneral of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (Egyptian branch), was most helpful in getting us into Gaza. Over dinner on the eve of our departure to Gaza, the mother of two boys said: “It’s important for people like you to enter Gaza. You can see for yourself what’s happening inside Gaza. It’s also very important for Gaza that people like you are allowed in.
“The people of Gaza must not be left alone. They must never be allowed to feel they are alone in the world community of nations. Humanitarian and relief volunteers, besides government visitors, give strength to the people of Gaza.
“We feel we have friends who rally behind us. You are our brothers and sisters. We value your support and assistance. You give us strength.”
For Malaysian non-governmental organisations and relief organisations that wish to help the people of Gaza, my unsolicited advice is simple — make sure your programme is well planned and funded. Make sure they are genuine and sustainable. Making one-off visits won’t do. The Gazans have dignity and they are not to be exploited for narrow purposes and political mileage. There are enough Malaysian NGOs which have established some networking in Gaza, and I feel it’s better to go through them.
Ongoing attempts at ending the blockade should continue by all means. An NGO from South Africa arrived yesterday bearing a vest that clearly spelt out their intention — breaking the siege.welcome