Admitting distaste, minister says Egypt holds key to effective Palestine aid

Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad witnesses the MoU between Econsave and Humanitarian Care Malaysia (MyCARE) during the launch of the Medical4Gaza Fund in Puncak Alam February 10, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad witnesses the MoU between Econsave and Humanitarian Care Malaysia (MyCARE) during the launch of the Medical4Gaza Fund in Puncak Alam February 10, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

PUNCAK ALAM, Feb 10 — Putrajaya will work more closely with Cairo, despite its reputation, for the sake of ensuring effective humanitarian aid to Palestine, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad.

Noting that Egypt was the sole access point to Palestine outside of Israel, the minister said the cooperation was essential to ensure more relief supplies reached the Palestinians, especially those in the Gaza Strip.

“Although many may not like it, but in diplomatic affairs, we must face the reality that we need (to work closer with Egypt).

“It is something that is crucial for us to do but also difficult,” he told the press at the launch of the Medical4Gaza charity fund at Econsave Alam Jaya here today.

Calling conditions within the Gaza Strip a humanitarian “disaster”, Dzulkefly said he will bring several initiatives to the Cabinet in an effort to help the Palestinians.

This includes giving government doctors two weeks’ unrecorded leave if they use the time to provide medical assistance in Palestinian territories.

The Medical4Gaza fund was launched by Humanitarian care Malaysia (MyCARE) in collaboration with supermarket chain Econsave. It aims to collect RM3 million for medical supplies and equipment that will be sent to the Gaza Strip.

MyCARE chief executive officer Kamarul Zaman Shaharul Anwar said medical aid is currently the most needed item there due to the shortage caused by worsening border clashes between Palestinians and the Israel Defence Force (IDF) since March last year.

“Hospitals in Gaza suffer from a shortage of medical supplies. With intensified attacks, the hospitals are unable to meet the needs of so many injured victims,” he said.

In March 2018, Palestinians launched a protest campaign along the edge of the Gaza Strip dubbed the Great March of Return.

The protests call for the right of Palestinian refugees to return home, a right enshrined in international law, and the end of the Israeli siege on the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt for over a decade.

Kamarul added some 7,000 refugees are in need of medical aid, which existing hospitals could not supply without the necessary supplies and manpower.

“The hospitals there lack the latest technology of medical equipment and are in need of specialists. When we visited one of the hospitals, they only had basic equipment, too outdated to carry out surgeries.

“MyCare is also planning to send 60 specialists from Malaysia gradually. For the first phase, 15 doctors will be sent to Gaza and will serve for 10 to 15 days,” he said, citing it plans to do so in April this year.

Econsave will place the Medical4Gaza collection boxes at all of its 73 outlets nationwide.

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