Friday, April 2, 2010

Kalla Invited to See Progress in Gaza as Thanks for Red Cross Aid During War

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society has invited former vice president Jusuf Kalla to visit the territory as a gesture of appreciation for Indonesia’s help during the Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip early last year.

“Indonesia has helped the difficult circumstances in Palestine and even rehabilitated our hospital in Gaza in January last year,” Younis Al-Khatib, president of the Palestinian Red Crescent, told a media conference on Thursday during a visit to the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI), which Kalla now heads.

He said that during the military conflict, checkpoints into Gaza were blocked by the Israeli Army, and Palestinian authorities had major difficulty transferring relief and medical supplies to affected areas. “But PMI and other Indonesian organizations were able to cross the border and deliver aid during the war that affected more than 400,000 Palestinians,” he added.

To thank Indonesia for its efforts, Younis said he would like Kalla to visit Palestine to personally see the progress made since the conflict. “We would be very honored if Mr. Jusuf Kalla is willing to pay us a visit,” he said.

Kalla said that he was grateful for the invitation, but was not able to set an exact date for the visit. “I still have to arrange the schedule and wait for the right moment to come and visit Palestine — it’s all still being worked out,” he said.

During Younis’s visit, Kalla also handed over $100,000 in relief funds to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.

In February last year, PMI delivered 2,000 blankets and $120,000 for victims of the conflict in Gaza.

Indonesia also donated Rp 20 billion ($2.2 million) to build a new hospital to help victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Half of the funding was provided by the government and the rest was collected from public donations through the Medical Emergency Rescue Committee, or MER-C.

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