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Gaza and its impact on Southeast Asia

Updated On: Jan 12, 2009

As the Indonesian leaders including the President tried to dissuade Indonesians from entering Gaza in various capacity, People’s Consultative Assembly Speaker Hidayat Nur Wahid leads a prayer for the safety of four Indonesian volunteers — epublika daily photographer Darmawan, Middle East expert Amrozi Z. Rais, Indonesian Humanitarian Relief Team logistics coordinator Yayat Supriatna and team coordinator Novariyadi Imam Akbari — who planned to infiltrate Gaza on a humanitarian mission.

Hundreds of people crammed al-Azhar Mosque in South Jakarta to bid farewell to these four volunteers of the Indonesian Humanitarian Relief Team (ACT) against a backdrop of anti-Israeli sentiments evidenced by photos of Israeli soldiers holding Palestinians at gunpoint were pasted to the walls.

The volunteers will bring with them about Rp 1 billion in cash that was collected from 2000 people over the last eight days at fund-raising events to buy food and supplies in Jordan which they will then give to Palestinians and they will team up with the Palestine Solidarity Community — an Amman-based Jordanian organization — as well as several pro-Palestine movements in the region.

This second team joins the first team of 10 volunteers (which included journalists) to the besieged Middle-Eastern spot, just as some hardline groups are recruiting and training volunteers to be sent to Palestine as fighters.

While Indonesians debated about entering Gaza, other Southeast Asians were getting out. 16 Filipinos, escorted by the International Red Cross and accompanied by special envoy to the Middle East Roy Cimatu escaped through Jordan, from where they took a plane for Thailand for a stopover.

There were a total of 108 Filipinos in Gaza before hostilities broke out between Israel and Hamas militants while Filipinos based in Israel were helping supply food to the Filipinos in Gaza through the Philippine Embassy. With the 16 Filipinos out, 92 Filipinos were left in Gaza and many of them chose to stay because they did not want to leave their families behind.

Sources:

Hermawan, Ary, "Volunteers leave on aid mission" dated 10 January 2009 in the Jakarta Post website [downloaded on 9 Jan 2009], available athttp://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2009/01/10/volunteers-leave-aid-missi...

Velasco, Noel, "Filipinos back home from hell of Gaza" dated 10 Jan 2009 in the Philippines Daily Inquirer website [downloaded on 9 Jan 2009], available athttp://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/news/view/20090110-182538/Filipino...







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