Gaza doctor takes 'Day After' fundraising drive to 'sympathetic' South Africa

Gaza doctor takes 'Day After' fundraising drive to 'sympathetic' South Africa
Dr. Basel Abuwarda has lost more than a hundred family members in Israel's continuing assault. He recently toured South Africa to mobilize medical aid for Gaza
5 min read
29 February, 2024
Dr Basel Abuwarda has been delivering his account on life in Gaza as a way of fundraising for Palestinians. [Joseph Chirume]]

A Palestinian doctor who lost more than 100 family members at the hands of Israeli forces in Gaza, is taking a fundraising mission to South Africa where he hope he could mobilize assistance for his beleaguered homeland, desperately in need for humanitarian aid.

Under the theme, #PalestineLeads Tour, A story of Palestinian Faith and Resilience, Dr. Basel Abuwarda aims to raise funds to buy food and medicine to assist his countrymen.

The 2013 graduate of Al Azhar University, Gaza, is hosted by two Johannesburg-based humanitarian NGOs, the Salaam Foundation and Colours of Hope. 

Dr. Basel recounted the tragedy of his family: “At the time I got the invitation from Colours of Hope Aid Organization in South Africa, the number of family members I lost was 57 including my parents. Now the number has increased to over 100. The last one was a few days ago, my cousin, Mohmmad Eisa Abuwarda. No one is counting anymore. Many people are missing, presumably buried under rubble. Some people are assumed dead, but they may be in different parts of Gaza, displaced with no way of connecting with their families.”

In a joint statement, Salaam Foundation and Colours of Hope said Basel, who is normally based in Germany, would hold fundraising events in Johannesburg, Middelburg, Newcastle, Pietermaritzburg, Durban and Cape Town throughout February.

“The #PalestineLeads Tour aims to showcase the dignity, bravery and courage of the Palestinian people in the face of an apartheid occupation that has transcended into an attempted genocide," said the statement, adding: "The visit is  a way of strengthening the bonds between the vast majority of South Africans who have consistently stood on the side of justice with the Palestinian people on a human level.”

South Africa, who suffered long under the white apartheid regime, has been particularly sympathetic to the plight of the Palestinians, bringing a genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice last month.

South Africa's continued popular support for Palestinians amid the assault on Gaza makes it a destination of choice to develop Dr. Basel's Salaam Foundation project [Joseph Chirume]

Gaza's unimaginable suffering

Dr. Basel told The New Arab about various monumental challenges the residents of Gaza were facing at present and noted that the scale of destruction shall make it very impossible to quickly rebuild schools, universities and infrastructure after the bombings have stopped.

“Firstly we have to rebuild schools and universities. Most of the schools and universities have been destroyed and the rest are being used as shelters for the displaced people in Gaza.

“Even when the war ends, it would be impossible to start with education as the basic needs of the people are so much greater. In Gaza we do not have the luxury of online schools because there is no electricity, and there is not even food currently”.


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He gave an example of how the destruction of infrastructure and universities will affect medical students adding that it was crucial to not only learn the theoretical foundations of medicine, but also to gain practical experience in order to become a doctor.

“Sadly many will not be able to gain the practical experiences that they need because almost every hospital in Gaza has been destroyed,” said Dr. Basel.

One of Dr. Basel’s highlights on his philanthropic journey was achieved in August 2014 when he co-founded the Save Gaza Project with Mostafa Abu Aasi. The latter is currently in Rafa helping out displaced Gazans there. 

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Save Gaza Project

Dr. Basel said it was challenging to obtain funding as well as difficult to transfer funds into Gaza.  

“Ultimately the blockade should be lifted, schools and universities should be rebuilt, homes should be built for the displaced people because living in a camp is not a sustainable long-term solution.When the situation in Gaza is more stable, there should be scholarships as funding options to cover studies.”

The only way for a permanent solution is for other countries to follow in the footsteps of South Africa to put pressure on Israel, he said.

He reiterated that those countries should do this by taking part in protests, marches, rallies, and vigils adding that heavier pressure should include cutting ties with Israel to force it to stop the genocide. 

“Countries around the world should follow in the footsteps of South Africa and hold Israel accountable for their actions as South Africa did at the International Court of Justice,” said Dr. Basel.

When the war stops, Dr. Basel wants to return to Gaza, explaining that his stay in Germany was only temporary as his aim was to improve his medical skills in surgery with the future objectives of returning to apply the skills he learned. 

This is after he was denied entry into Gaza in 2023 by the Egyptian authorities.

"On 14 October 2023, I went to Egypt in the hope of crossing the border to be able to help the people in Gaza and be with my family, or rather those of my family who were alive. I stayed for more than two weeks, but was not allowed to enter."