The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip continues to take on a unique nature regarding the challenges posed to charity work, given the acceleration of political events and unyielding reactions. This includes the polarisation in the region in which international and regional issues overlap, casting a shadow on the Palestinian cause.
The state of international silence towards a siege that is considered one of the longest in history, as well as the most fierce since the sick is deprived of medication, children are deprived of milk, and families are cut off from each other as a result of restrictions on movement in and out of the Gaza Strip. The catastrophe has reached the point of putting two million people on the brink of starvation, exposing a deterioration of morals on a political level, reaching a level more reactionary than the Middle Ages, whose societies and people lack laws governing the states’ and individuals’ behaviour.
A number of governments in Arab and Muslim have challenged the reality of violations against their brethren and neighbours. Such governments took it upon themselves to adopt courageous positions supporting human rights. Qatar is one of the countries that cannot bear to hear the moans of the hungry and sick in Gaza without taking initiative and real action rather than pledging to. It allocated a budget for supporting the revival and advancement of sectors in Gaza, starting with the health sector. It also secured basic needs, such as food and fuel, reconstructed homes and schools, along with other projects.
The list also includes other countries, such as Turkey, which still adopts supportive humanitarian positions, as well as firm political positions. Such stances include acting as a supporter and strong defender of the rights of the Palestinian people in an explicit manner that showcases Turkey’s political constants without any ambiguity. We cannot deny the roles of other Arab and Muslim countries who have been very generous with the besieged people in Gaza, providing them with humanitarian aid, albeit within the limits of their political capabilities, before their humanitarian ones.
Egypt has always had a major role and status amongst its fellow Arabs, and has always shouldered much of the responsibility for the political and humanitarian repercussions of the Palestinian cause since the beginning. We give it much credit for resisting the pressure from the occupation and the forces backing it to cut off the lifeline to Gaza. It has been wise in how it has handled the current situation, especially given the increased complexity of the situation after the security instabilities were added as a result of the terrorist acts in Sinai.
The terrorist attacks on the Egyptian security forces and the Egyptian army have had a negative effect on movement to and from Gaza via the Rafah border crossing. However, this did not prevent the Egyptian government from providing many facilities to those trapped in the Gaza Strip. This was abundantly clear in meeting the needs of the Gazans and allowing the passing of basic needs into Gaza. Egypt also provided Gaza with many of its health sector needs, such as medicine and medical supplies, as well as opening the Rafah crossing from time to time for the entry of building materials, fuel and other commodities.
The Egyptian government’s initiative to open the Rafah crossing throughout the holy month of Ramadan has had a significant positive effect on easing the siege on the people of Gaza. In the same the context, our brothers in Egypt cooperated with the efforts to coordinate the Miles of Smiles 34 convoy, as it had promised, and took the required measures to facilitate the convoy’s arrival.
We cannot deny that Cairo has continued to play its Arab nationalist role in the current phase by showing keenness in actively contributing to the achievement of the national Palestinian reconciliation. This was highlighted by the repeated visits of Egyptian officials to Gaza and Ramallah, which resulted in the agreement of the National Reconciliation Government operating in Gaza, and then looking into all outstanding issues.
Charity work in the context of the siege on Gaza – wherein lies one of the aspects of its unique nature – is carried out to achieve several goals, not least of which is the delivery of relief and humanitarian aid to the besieged. The need to continue charity initiatives for Gaza is increasing in order to establish the values of good in people. Those imposing the blockade, as well as those supporting them and their crime and those who applaud it, are waiting for the moment Gaza’s death is declared, considering it a declaration of the death of the entire nation. The role of charity work is to confront the ugliness of the image if moral deterioration, even if such deterioration is caused by global superpowers that control the international political decisions and work day and night to adjust such decisions in accordance with their interests.
The charitable work, which has succeeded in the past in organising itself, as a united body brought together by the basic principles of humanitarian work, was able to achieve another goal. This goal is revealing the truth of the crime of the siege and its implications on the humanitarian level, as well as its various dimensions and aspects impacting the course of events on the ground. It also managed to remove any ambiguity, obscurity and misinformation used by the occupation to hide the magnitude of the crime and force the victims to bear the burden.
There have been changes in the political situation reaching the stage of suffocating the people of Gaza by intensifying the unjust, immoral and inhumane blockade. This aims to force the Gazans to raise their white flags in surrender and lose their great sense of dignity, which would then lead to them agreeing to concede their national constants. However, the determination of the Gazans has always been joined with the hope of the pioneers in the charity sector to unite their efforts and continue to provide humanitarian support by all means possible, as well as work to create an environment conducive to opening greater prospects and horizons that could help expand the scope of humanitarian aid to alleviate the burden and severity of the blockade.
The return of the Miles of Smiles convoys to the charity and humanitarian aid arenas, as well as the resumption of its efforts to break the unjust siege on the Gaza Strip, is part of this context. This is after it achieved various achievements on many levels during the siege’s early years. Such successes were made on charity, humanitarian, and legal arenas, leading to reaping the fruits of international solidarity and interaction with one of the major humanitarian causes of our time. This was achieved by highlighting the “crime of the century” and raising awareness of the facts and circumstances, as well as rallying the world’s public opinion in order to pressure the capitals of the world and influence the international decision-makers to end the siege.
This is in addition to the charitable projects implemented that had initially begun as relief projects, but then proceeded in the direction of developmental projects aiming to take Gazan families from the state of poverty and destitution to a state of production and self-reliance in providing basic needs and a free and dignified life.
This positive impact was clear in the development of many vital sectors in Gaza, such as the health, agricultural and industrial sectors. It also brought about a change in the quality of life of many groups in society, such as fishermen, workers, students, orphans, those with special needs, the ill, the elderly, etc., by improving the living conditions of thousands.
The Miles of Smiles convoy is returning in order to continue the humanitarian path and to give momentum to the “humanitarian defence front” – so to speak – with the aim of achieving more successes, on the road to breaking the siege. It also aims to sustain the international humanitarian movement for Gaza in light of a very difficult phase in the history of the Palestinian cause, witnessing a war of exhaustion and the hatching of plots to eliminate the cause and the rights of the entire Palestinian nation.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.