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Ain al-Hilweh launches blood drive for Gaza Strip

A boy is taught to disassemble a gun at the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh, Thursday, July 17, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: The Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh launched a campaign Thursday to donate blood to Gaza, as fighting between Israel and Hamas entered its 10th day leaving more than more than 1,000 Gazans injured and at least 230 dead.

Alongside campaigns involving the collection of in-kind aid and money in support of Gaza in the camp in southern Lebanon, a Palestinian faction has teamed up with the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and Al-Nidaa Association to send blood to those in need as a result of Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. They plan to transfer the blood to Gaza via the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Fouad Othman, Sidon’s representative of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said the campaign revealed the camp’s loyalty toward Palestinians in Gaza, and was a means of supporting the many wounded.

“The least we can do is donate blood to our families and the people in Gaza,” he told The Daily Star. “This campaign which we have launched today ... is at the very least an expression of our support to our people.”

“These horrible massacres committed by the Israeli enemy should not pass, and the Israeli occupier should pay the price of these massacres,” Othman added.

He condemned the silence on the matter by the Arab world and the international community, saying it was part of a conspiracy against the Palestinians which prevented it from fulfilling its duties.

Ain al-Hilweh’s residents have been rallying on the camps’ streets over the last few days, carrying flags and chanting slogans in support of Hamas and calling on the party to strike Israel’s capital Tel Aviv.

Palestinian factions have also been holding rallies outside of their offices.

Big screens have also been installed in the camp that show residents’ photos and videos of Hamas’ retaliatory strikes on the Jewish state in the evening after most have eaten their iftar meal to break the Ramadan fast. While such screens previously only aired footage of Israeli strikes and the consequent images of wounded and dying Palestinians, factions in the camp have changed tack in a bid to encourage residents to support Hamas and show their resilience.

Amer al-Samak, director general of Al-Nidaa Association that owns the Al-Nidaa hospital where people are donating blood, echoed Othman’s comments and said the campaign was aimed at supporting the residents of Gaza during the war.

“We are withdrawing blood according to modern medical systems so the blood transfusion is safe, and we are placing it in the freezer to maintain its coldness,” Samak explained. “We will then hand it over to the Red Cross to transport it in a legal and orderly way.”

He told The Daily Star that a significant number of people had donated blood so far but did not elaborate.

The current conflict between Israel and Hamas was triggered by the killing of three Israeli teens in the occupied West Bank last month, the preceding security crackdown, and the death weeks later of a Palestinian youth in a suspected revenge murder.

Gaza health officials say at least 230 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed in the fighting that erupted 10 days ago. In Israel, one civilian has been killed by fire from the Gaza Strip.

Also Thursday, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s military wing in Ain al-Hilweh performed a military parade along with replicas of the Palestinian Al-Qassam Brigades’ rockets and launchers in support of the Strip.

Nidal Othman, a member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s leadership, explained to The Daily Star that the parade was a symbolic expression of support from Ain al-Hilweh’s residents, stressing that “resistance was the only option to deter attacks from the Zionist enemy against our people in Gaza.”

He said this was an indicator of the Palestinians’ “legendary resilience” despite the Arab community’s disappointing silence.

“It is this legendary resilience that Israel is unable to break with the power of aerial weapons and all its destructive and criminal weapons. The Palestinian resistance is enduring,” he said.

This story was corrected on July 18, 2014. 

The original story incorrectly stated that Doctors Without Borders participated in the blood drive. The organization did not take part in this initiative. 

 
This article was amended on Friday, July 18 2014

The original story incorrectly stated that Doctors Without Borders participated in the blood drive. The organization did not take part in this initiative. 

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 18, 2014, on page 4.

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Summary

The Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh launched a campaign Thursday to donate blood to Gaza, as fighting between Israel and Hamas entered its 10th day leaving more than more than 1,000 Gazans injured and at least 230 dead.

Alongside campaigns involving the collection of in-kind aid and money in support of Gaza in the camp in southern Lebanon, a Palestinian faction has teamed up with the Red Cross, the Red Crescent, and Al-Nidaa Association to send blood to those in need as a result of Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. They plan to transfer the blood to Gaza via the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Amer al-Samak, director general of Al-Nidaa Association that owns the Al-Nidaa hospital where people are donating blood, echoed Othman's comments and said the campaign was aimed at supporting the residents of Gaza during the war.


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