Disaster Relief in Gaza

January 2009 – March 2009

  • At the end of December 2008, Israel launched a full scale air and ground assault on Gaza, leaving over a thousand dead, hundreds injured and severe damage to housing and infrastructure.
  • In response, the Gift of the Givers Foundation, together with the Department of Foreign Affairs, supported by the South African Council of Churches, the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, Cosatu and the ANC Women’s League, prepared a R15 million humanitarian aid mission to assist the people of Gaza, who are suffering intense difficulty in the aftermath of the war.
  • The humanitarian aid mission consisted of:
- 84 tons of aid (sent by a Jumbo 747 aircraft). The aid consisted of medical equipment, medical supplies, medicines, bottled water, food, baby milk, high energy protein supplements, wheelchairs, blankets and generators, as well as a fully-equipped ambulance. The South African aid package was a collective contribution from all the people of South Africa. This was also the largest plane ever used by Gift of the Givers in its 16 years of disaster relief operations

- A 25-member specialist medical team.

  • Twelve independent South African journalists also accompanied the mission.

  • The Gift of the Givers team and the journalists left on Wednesday, January 21, 2009, from Oliver Tambo Airport, Johannesburg. They were given a special send-off at the airport. VIP’s included the Mayor of Ekurhuleni and President of the ANC Women’s League, Ms Angie Motshekga, Deputy President of Cosatu, Ms Violet Seboni and the Core-Convener of the Progressive Women’s Movement, Ms Noluthando Mayende Sibiya.
  • The United Nations Rescue and Works Agency, through negotiations with the South African Embassy in Syria, promised full support and safe passage.
  • The Gift of the Givers team and the humanitarian aid entered Gaza on Saturday, January 24, 2009, via Egypt.

  • The team worked at Shifa Hospital in Gaza, and will continue to support the hospital.
  • The team achieved the following:

-   Trauma counselling

- Medical skills transfer

- Delivery of the most updated medical equipment

- Performing many diverse operations

- Lecturing to medical students

-   Advice on better health management systems

- Cash donations to families and to orphanages

  • Gift of the Givers signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Gaza University Medical School for support with scholarships, lecturing, skills transfer, exchange programmes and equipment support.
  • They identified the need to set up a hip replacement unit, due to nature and extent of the injuries sustained due to heavy bombing. The R7 million specialised hip replacement unit is located at the European Union Hospital. This was made possible by the generous donations of South African businesses and the public.
  • This is the second time that Gift of the Givers has carried out disaster relief work in the Occupied Territories. Previously, Gift of the Givers delivered aid to the West Bank in 2002 with full approval of the Israeli Government.


James Oatway, a photojournalist for the Sunday Times, presents his excellent pictures from his trip to Gaza with the Gift of the Givers Aid Mission. Please see multimedia.thetimes.co.za/photos/2009/02/photographs-from-the-front-line/