August 20, 2018 | ° F

Fundraising dinner rakes in $25K for Gaza crisis

While Gaza resident Amer Shurrab offered his first hand account of the violence that took place in his home, some of the more than 300 audience members passed tissues to one another Saturday night in the Busch Campus Center's Multipurpose Room.

The Arabic Cultural Club, Rutgers Muslim Student's Association and Islamic Relief held a fund raising dinner to raise money for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, in which more than $25,000 was raised by about 300 attendees because of ticket sales and pledges collected throughout the night.

"My dad was left all night with the bodies of his sons between his arms. Ambulances were not allowed in until the next day, noon Jan. 17. That's when the Israeli Army allowed help to come in," Shurrab said. "They never carried a gun in their lives; they were killed for no reason. Our story is not unique. Families all over Gaza have been suffering. Our brothers are not numbers or statistics. They are real people with real stories, and maybe one day justice will be served."

Northeast Region Islamic Relief Development Coordinator Waleed Gabr organized the fundraising portion of the evening.

"This money will go strictly to Palestine for Islamic Relief work in Gaza. We procured $3 million worth in aid," Gabr said. "It buys basic necessities and goes toward dried and canned goods, gas lights, infant milk formulas, blankets and hygiene kits. We are one of the few organizations operating within Gaza. We are bringing in relief from the Rafah crossing in Egypt and from our office in the West Bank."

Islamic Relief has been operating for the past 25 years from 35 countries worldwide, helping 35 million people annually, according to their Web site.

Two hundred thousand people were displaced after three weeks of conflict in Gaza, more than half of them children, while approximately 91 percent of Gazans are dependent on food assistance, according to the site.

Omer Turan, a College of Nursing first-year student, is not of Palestinian origin but thinks there is a grave need to give to those affected by violence in the Palestinian territories.

"Since Hamas has been democratically elected within Gaza the United States and Israel have lead sanctions against Gaza and it has destroyed their economy," Turan said.

Remi Kanazi is a poet and the editor of "Poets for Palestine," an anthology of poetry also containing spoken word, hip-hop and art.

From a poem titled "Palestinian Identity," Kanazi spoke about what it meant for him to grow up in western Massachusetts as an Arab American.

"I will always be me with my roots planted firmly, American with Palestinian ancestry," Kanazi said.

Pablo Albilal

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