Durban — The work of the Gift of the Givers organisation in Gaza will continue despite the death of Ahmed Abbasi, a pharmacist who headed up the organisation’s office in the region.
Abbasi and his brother were killed in a bomb blast as they were returning from an early morning prayer at a mosque on Thursday. Thousands of civilians have been killed since the Israeli Defence Force launched its onslaught on Palestine in response to a Hamas attack on October 7.
Dr Malik Abou-Rageila, who heads up the Gift of the Givers’ operations in the Middle East, said the two men were buried without family present.
“They took the bodies to the hospital, then in the hospital they decided they couldn’t keep them because there was no power. So they buried him next to the hospital. Because the roads are closed and movement is difficult, they can’t predict when the family will come. That’s why most hospitals decide that once they receive bodies they can’t wait and have to bury them as soon as possible.”
Abou-Rageila said Abbasi, who joined the Gift of the Givers in 2013, had three children, a daughter and two sons. Apart from his pharmaceutical studies, the 34-year-old had also completed a Master’s degree focusing on NGO management.
He said that the northern area of Gaza where Abbasi lived with 34 members of his family, many of them children and the elderly, was “very dangerous” and had been consistently bombed for a period of weeks.
However, when the team encouraged him to leave for the south where it was “safer” he refused. “He said: ‘I still have work to finish in Gaza City because we have already purchased hundreds of food parcels and medical supplies’.”
Abou-Rageila said even though the Gift of the Givers team was still coming to terms with Abbasi’s death, it would serve as an impetus to work even harder to provide assistance to people living under siege.
“Our team is so saddened now but they know this has become a situation that happens every day. From the first day of the war, everyone is expecting that anything can happen to him (Abbasi). I think this will give them motivation to carry on because they know we need to help more people now and treat the pains of the people.”
Abou-Rageila said every day he pleaded with the team not to put themselves at risk because the health workers made up the machine that kept their humanitarian work going.
“I believe as long as they are intact and safe our work will be stronger because day after day the situation in Gaza is getting worse.”
While the Gift of the Givers still had medical supplies, their stocks were running low and they were working hard to get trucks with supplies into Gaza from Egypt.
Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman told the Independent on Saturday that they were devastated by Abbasi’s death but “we had prepared for this because it was expected”.
Sooliman said Abbasi was responsible for implementing multiple projects, like delivering water, distributing food parcels and upgrading damaged homes.
“Rest in peace my friend, you have served with distinction,” Sooliman said.
Independent on Saturday