Brother of GOTG’s Ahmed Abbasi shares their heartache and honour

Head of Gift of the Givers in Gaza, Ahmed Abbasi has been killed. Photo: Gift of the Givers

Head of Gift of the Givers in Gaza, Ahmed Abbasi has been killed. Photo: Gift of the Givers

Published Nov 21, 2023


Cape Town - The brother of Gift of the Givers head who was killed in Gaza, Abdulrahman Abbasi, has shared the family’s heartache at losing two siblings during an attack at a mosque, and said they regarded them as martyrs.

Gift of the Givers head in Gaza, Ahmed Abbasi, and his brother, Mustafa, were killed while at mosque on November 16.

Ahmed and Mustafa had just completed their pre-dawn prayer at a local mosque when the building came under fire from the Israeli Defence Force (IDF).

Abdulrahman said he was trying to get his elderly parents to leave the volatile area, but his father, Yusuf, was determined to stay in his homeland.

More than 700 000 Palestinian Arabs fled their homes in 1948. Yusuf was a child and his family were among those that lived through the Palestinian expulsion and flight known as the Nakba.

On October 7, a surprise deadly attack was launched by the militant wing of Hamas on Israel from Gaza. In response, Israel launched a series of missile strikes, leading to a full-blown war. Close to 12 000 people have been killed since the conflict erupted.

Abdulrahman said although they were devastated by the loss of two siblings, they knew their deaths were bestowed with the greatest honour.

“Ahmed and Mustafa loved to take care of our parents,” he said.

“He was kind to his parents and always trying to take responsibility for them, treating them with Mustafa. For us as Palestinians, we believe that we are defending a big cause, an important cause, defending land.

“We believe that any person who has been killed in such a cause is a martyr and automatically goes to heaven. My parents also understand this.

“They are sad because Ahmed and Mustafa was the main boat that carried them in the sea of life in their old age.

“If my father had high blood pressure, he would call on Mustafa or Ahmed.”

Abdulrahman said on the day of his brothers’ deaths, his father was just metres away from where the tragedy happened. “They were all together, (parents) Ahmed and Mustafa, before they went for that walk that morning,” he explained.

“My father was catching up with them, he was just 200 metres away from them.

“I do not know the exact distance,” he said.

Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman with Ahmed Abbasi (dressed in cream/beige) T-shirt. Supplied image

Abbasi said that his father and mother, Ayda, had chosen to remain in the north of Gaza where they have lived all their lives.

“In 1948, people were expelled from the cities, some to Gaza and Lebanon and Egypt,” said Abdulrahman.

“Nakba is the expelling of people from their cities – my father was one of the witnesses to that and today he is a witness again.

“He said to Ahmed and Mustafa they can go to the south but he will stay in the north where his home is and I think that is a courageous decision.

“He (father) says he wants to die in the same sand as Ahmed and Mustafa.

Last week, colleagues of Ahmed, Hanin Barghoudi, who is in the West Bank near Gaza and Ayah Jaber, who now lives in South Africa told of continuing their humanitarian work while facing death and fear.

Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said they were grateful that Ahmed had served for 40 consecutive days during this war.

Weekend Argus