29 Jan 2009

AIF responds on the third day of the Bombardment making it the first South Afrcian NGO to respond to the crisis

The three-week military offensive on Gaza during December 2008 - January 2009, titled Operation Cast Lead, was one of the bloodiest in Palestine’s history. Rocket and mortar attacks and a ground offensive destroyed government buildings, homes, schools and shops, and killed thousands of Palestinians, including women and children. The Al-Imdaad Foundation was the first South African NGO to enter the Gaza Strip on the third day of the conflict. They worked in the field for approximately 3 weeks. Dr. Zakaria Al Sheikh from AIF’s office in Ammaan co-ordinated the immediate aid distribution of food, blankets and much-needed medical supplies. The second AIF relief team left South Africa on January 18 2010 for Ammaan, from where a follow-up aid mission was planned. Using AIF’s offices in Jordan as a base, the team, headed by Qari Ziyaad Patel, organised relief packages consisting mostly of food items. The aid convoy was met by the South African Ambassador to Jordan Dr. Boy Geldenhuys before it left for Gaza. On its arrival, the convoy and the AIF team were allowed into the Gaza Strip and relief packages were distributed accordingly. The AIF team also crossed the Rafa border into Egypt to purchase more food, blankets and medical supplies at the El Arish port. They were met by the South African ambassador to Egypt Sonto Kudjoe who assisted them with the necessary documentation. A second convoy transported relief aid from El Arish into Gaza. Fortunately, all 160 tons of aid was allowed into the Gaza Strip and distributed successfully. The Al-Imdaad Foundation’s relief efforts in Gaza are ongoing and predate Operation Cast Lead. AIF has established a females-only hospital in Gaza and runs other projects including medical rehabilitation, orphans and widows’ care, feeding schemes and Iftaar and Sehri programmes in Gaza.
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