Gift of the Givers face death and grief daily as they continue their humanitarian work

Smoke billows following Israeli strikes in Gaza City. REUTERS/Saleh Salem

Smoke billows following Israeli strikes in Gaza City. REUTERS/Saleh Salem

Published Nov 18, 2023


Staring death in the face every minute of the day and leaving loved ones buried under rubble and not knowing whether relatives are dead or alive have not stopped the humanitarian work of Gift of the Givers (GOTG) staff and volunteers who are currently in Gaza as Israeli bombs rain down.

Despite losing their beloved colleague and friend, Ahmed Abbasi, the Head of GOTG in Gaza, the work continues for Hanin Barghoudi and Ayah Jaber.

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

Barghoudi is currently in the West Bank near Gaza while Jaber has lost 50 family members, many still buried under the rubble.

Jaber is now in South Africa after leaving the Gaza strip three days prior to the war, and is continuing with efforts to supply food and materials to those over there despite not knowing whether her mother, uncle, cousins, aunts and sister are alive after losing communication with them this week.

Abbasi and his brother, Dr Mustafa Abbasi, had just completed their pre-drawn prayer at a local mosque when the building came under fire from the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on Thursday.

Abbasi’s wife broke the news to their teams in Gaza via a text message that he had died during a bombing attack.

Both Barghoudi and Jaber worked with Abbasi for 10 years after he joined GOGT in 2013.

Jaber had woken to the sad news and said they had openly sworn to do their work, helping those in need despite the obstacles they face.

Jaber moved to South Africa 11 years ago.

“I woke to the news, and I saw on our team group everyone is sending condolences and everyone is sending tears and crying,” said Jaber.

“It was our team member and photographer in Gaza who sent a message and when I listened to his voice note, he was crying and saying we have lost Ahmed.

“The way he received the news was via Ahmed’s wife, through an SMS. She said Ahmed has been granted Shahda, which means being a martyr.

“He was at the mosque reading the fajr prayer, the dawn prayer at 5am, and the masjiet was bombed.”

Barghoudi is one of more than nine staff and volunteers who risk their lives daily to feed those displaced by the ongoing war in Gaza.

Hanin Barghoudi of Gift of the Givers in West Bank near Gaza speaks. supplied image

Barghoudi, who is a mother of two, said they were her most important priority but that they all were in danger every minute of the day.

“Ahmed was a very kind person, he was a pure soul and gentle.

“He dedicated his life to helping others and was a father of three.

“Ahmed was a wonderful soul and losing him was a big loss.

“What happened to Ahmed is happening this very minute in Gaza.

“The situation now in Gaza is that everyone is being forced to evacuate and most of the volunteers have been forced to execute. but despite all the obstacles we are still trying to get aid to the families.

“We will continue to do our work, no matter what.”

Jaber, who is uncertain whether her family is alive or dead, is kept calm by her faith.

“My entire family is there. My sister’s house was bombed on the second day,” she said.

Ayah Jaber, sister, Malak Jaber’s home in Gaza which was bombed at the start of the war in Gaza. supplied image

“They have been displaced a few times, My mother is in one area and the other family in another.

“I do not know anything about them at the moment – if they are alive or dead, we have lost communication with Gaza since yesterday (Thursday).

“I have actually lost 50 people in my family from the start of the war up until now.

“My uncle, who has survived, is part of the paramedics.”

He was not at home when the building was bombed with more than 40 people inside.

“Another branch of my family had 10 to 15 people inside a house.

“We still do not know the numbers because they are still under the rubble,” Jaber said.

“We cannot get the bodies out.

Ayah Jaber’s uncle’s home where 40 people died in Gaza two weeks ago.Picture supplied

According to Al Jeera, 11 470 people have been killed during the Israeli strikes on Gaza.

This week, World Health Organization (WHO), director-general Tedros Ghebreyesus said 26 of 36 hospitals were closed due to damage and that there were only 1 400 hospital beds.

On Thursday, GOTG founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said they were grateful that “Abbasi served for 40 consecutive days during the war where the cold -blooded murder, ethnic cleansing and genocide of a defenceless civilian population, caught up in a ghetto, took place at the hands of the anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, anti-Christian and anti-Muslim, inhumane Zionist Israeli murderers”.

Gift of the Givers founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency(ANA)

The Department of International Relations and Co-operation said via a media statement that South Africa was outraged by the killing of civilians and aid workers.

Salaamedia will be hosting the world-renowned Norwegian physician, humanitarian and activist, Dr Mads Gilbert, who will be visiting South Africa for a 10 day tour.

Gilbert served as a doctor in the Palestinian territories, including at the recently bombed al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip.

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