SHAH ALAM 28 Feb 2009 – If a pin dropped, it would have been deafening. All eyes were glued to Dr Roniyuzam Abdul Malek as he narrated the attempts he and his team of HALUAN members made to enter Gaza via Egypt last week. A much traveled man who had traversed the length of the Silk Route on a backpacker’s budget during his varsity days, his storytelling had the 200-odd audience eating out of his hands in no time. The volunteer doctor of HALUAN Malaysia set out for Kaherah on February 16 in hopes of entering the embattled city of Gaza. The borders had been closed a week prior to their arrival and hopes were high that it would be opened again by the time they arrived. But no. Dr Roniyuzam was accompanied by lecturer cum medical engineer, Noorazman Mohd Samsuddin and Arabic translator, Ustaz Muhtad Mohd Yusof who graduated from Egypt. From Kaherah they drove up to Ismailiyah, crossed the Suez Canal and traveled through the desert towards Al-Arish, a seaside township located next to the Red Sea which meets the Mediterranean. From there, it was another 70km to Rafah nearing the Gaza opening, only to be frustrated by needless roadblocks and pokerfaced border guards who won’t let anyone in, with or without official documents from whatever embassies. And to think of the trouble HALUAN went through to secure those documents. The team witnessed first-hand how the Egyptian authorities wield their trump cards at their own fancy, befitting the groans and grudges read on websites belonging to oh so many NGOs who have made futile attempts to enter Gaza via the Rafah opening.
The team made some important contacts with the local NGOs such as the Arab Medical Union for future collaborations, as well as with the Egyptian Red Cross. That was about as good as it gets. But it was two days prior to the team’s departure home that the Egyptian authorities decided to let a small opening through for the Palestinian victims-of-war to get their daily necessities in – food items, medicines, toiletries, cooking gas cylinders, blankets for the chilling winter, washing machines, and milk for their babies. No others, Egyptians included, were allowed to enter Gaza, much to the chagrin of the 100-odd international volunteers who flocked to the immigration outpost after sniffing hints of endearment. Dissent was in the air but HALUAN stayed cool under the demeaning bureaucracy. He observed that although no kind words or deeds were offered by their neighbour, the Palestinians were a courageous and courteous lot even under heavy duress due to the war, deaths in the family, and death looming over their own heads as they mill about minding their business. The team offered help to the victims of Israeli oppression by helping them to carry their load closer to the Egyptian immigration base, arriving at a certain point whereby the Palestinians would smile at them, thank them for their kindness and say that that should be the last mile that the team members should risk sending them home into Gaza. If only they could just fly over the checkpoint. “I’m amazed at their dexterity, their determination to fight for their rights of a homeland now invaded and destroyed. With all the destructions around, there isn’t much to look forward to, but not the Palestinians. They are a different breed of people,” said Dr Roni. “The women heaved heavy loads back to their ramshackle town, and we don’t even know if they have a roof over their heads. We here head straight to bed without a single thought or prayer to God. One Palestinian woman single-handedly lugged a washing machine which I thought it was impossible to do but under those circumstances I guessed she……”, his voice cracked and trailed away into a long silence. For anyone, the sight and plight of these special people called Palestinians are just too much to bear. While the younger audience looked at the defeated doctor for continuation, the older folks like this writer looked away, hoping to hold back the looming tears. It worked, but it really choked inside. No sane human being alive could ever stomach the atrocities unleashed by the rabid and cursed Zionists. Main speaker for the night, varsity lecturer Sollehudin Shuib said the Gaza onslaught was a victory of sorts this time around as never before Israel’s debauchery and massacre were highlighted with such intensity and glare by the international media. Many nations were appalled. The call for a war tribunal to prosecute Israel’s warlords was worrying enough for the Zionist illegal state. He called on the special audience of parents and pupils of Sekolah Ibn Khaldun to do their bit by supplicating for their Palestinian brothers and sisters. He also called out for them to execute selective boycotts of Israeli and other products that openly support the Zionist state. Sollehudin added that some victories are evident with the boycott and the ummah can do much more by telling their friends, neighbours and relatives to join ranks. He also disclosed that HALUAN has officially handed RM100,000 in public donations to the government of Gaza. Passing the hat around, sympathizers of the Palestinian cause chipped in over RM1,500 in donations during the night’s talk. [email_link] [print_link]