St George’s Cathedral holds interfaith service for GOTG Gaza Head

An interfaith service held at St George's Cathedral for Ahmed Abbasi, a Palestinian who headed up the Gift of the Givers Office in Gaza. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

An interfaith service held at St George's Cathedral for Ahmed Abbasi, a Palestinian who headed up the Gift of the Givers Office in Gaza. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane / Independent Newspapers

Published Nov 20, 2023


Cape Town - Gift of the Givers (GOTG) founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman has called on more countries to refer Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and for the Israeli ambassador in South Africa to be “thrown out of the country”.

This was the plea in front of a packed St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town yesterday, where an interfaith service for slain GOTG Gaza office head Ahmed Abbasi was held.

Abbasi, a pharmacist alongside his brother Dr Mustapha, was targeted and killed by the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) while returning from the predawn Fajr prayers on Thursday.

Sooliman previously said Abbasi was responsible for implementing multiple projects including the care of orphans, widows, elderly and the ill. He delivered water through GOTG desalination plants, distributed food parcels, provided hot meals and upgraded damaged homes.

Via an audio recording, Sooliman said: “These are people being massacred, they are being killed. It’s heartless and the world needs to take action.”

Sooliman thanked the South African government and those of Bolivia, Bangladesh, Djibouti and Comoros for “taking Benjamin Netanyahu, the terrorist from Tel Aviv to the ICC. We need more countries with guts and courage to emulate South Africa’s example to stand up for the truth.”

He also called on Arab countries to open their borders to facilitate the delivery of aid and medical teams to Gaza and for the UN Security Council to be true to its charter, to end the killings and open a corridor of safety so that GOTG could send a team of no less than 100 highly trained and qualified medical personnel in various disciplines from South Africa into Gaza.

“We need to teach Israel that impunity is not acceptable in this world. Apartheid is not acceptable in this world,” Sooliman said.

Sooliman also called for the arrests of South African passport holders fighting in the IDF and for the minister of Higher Education to enact law to cut all links with all universities and all attachments to Israel.

St George’s Cathedral Dean Father Michael Weeder said: “So in as much as we are celebrating or lamenting the death of Ahmed Abbasi, it’s also, his death in relation to the work that he was doing, the caring ministry that he was doing for a wide range of people from orphans, to widows, and so on.

“At the same time, it was in the cause of a free Palestine. So as much as he represents someone who died, he also died a martyr for a particular reason.”

The interfaith service comes just a day after several Cape Union Mart stores across the country were the site of demonstrations as part of a targeted boycott by pro-Palestine supporters. On Saturday, some stores saw the front of their entrances lined with white body shrouds depicting the thousands who had been murdered in Gaza as a result of Israeli bombardment.

In 2015, the Yakir Keren Hayesod Award was awarded to Cape Union Mart’s Philip Krawitz at a ceremony in Jerusalem. Krawitz is also the chairperson of the United Jewish Campaign’s Board of Trustees.

The campaign raises funds for “both local and Israeli causes, including Keren Hayesod”. The Keren Hayesod-United Israel Appeal is the fundraising arm of Israel.

Krawitz’s paternal grandfather, Philip, founded Cape Union Mart in 1933, and was a staunch supporter of the Zionist movement.

“We targeted Cape Union Mart because after October 7, the owner Philip Krawitz, spoke at a public rally pledging, in fact, Cape Town’s support for Israel and the aim was to raise money for the Israeli war fund. He is clearly supporting the genocide that is taking place in Gaza, a South African business, and so he is a target of an active boycott. We’re planning more pickets at his stores in the coming weeks,” South African BDS Coalition co-ordinator Roshan Dadoo said.

Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) spokesperson Usuf Chikte said: “We’re single- minded in stopping this carnage in Gaza and the support from South Africa and we are calling for a full consumer boycott of Cape Union Mart, Old Khaki, Poetry and K-Way and we are telling Philip Krawitz, we will end our boycott when you end your complicity with genocide.”

In the Western Cape, demonstrations were held at Access Park, Kenilworth Centre, Canal Walk, V&A Waterfront, and Paarl Mall.

A number of demonstrations were also held in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Potchefstroom, and Pietermaritzburg.

Cape Union Mart would not comment on the demonstrations at this stage.