Relief organization Gift of the Givers started its humanitarian work in Gaza on Sunday, after gaining entry into the besieged coastal strip late Saturday afternoon. The delegation of 10 medical doctors experienced some trouble in Cairo this week, while awaiting clearance from the Egyptian embassy to enter through the Rafah border.
GOTG founder Dr Imtiaz Sooliman said on Friday night he received a call from the Egyptian ambassador to South Africa and he was advised not to worry as all arrangements have been made. The team travelled via a ferry on Saturday at 6am and travelled for 11 hours, going through multiple check points.
“At one point we had to wait for the military escorts, which took approximately two hours,” said Sooliman.
“We had no problems on the Egyptian side, they were cooperative and we gained access easily at the border.”
The consignment of medical supplies and other will arrive on Sunday afternoon from Macedonia, where it was chartered to from Johannesburg.
Upon their arrival in Gaza, Sooliman said they had a wonderful reception from the Palestinian people.
“The people in Gaza were extremely grateful for the support from South Africa and its people. They are also very grateful that an effort was taken to be with them.”
Sooliman said the entire medical mission had been shocked at the level of devestation in Gaza. The team of 10 doctors will now have to find themselves places to work and assist the medical doctors in Gaza even without their supplies. On Sunday morning, the first batch of patients will be allocated to the team.
The delegation are expected to depart on Friday. VOC ( Imogen Vollenhoven)