November 10, 2013 The European Al-Wafaa campaign to support the victims of Syria is preparing to launch its fifth “Winter convoy”, next Tuesday, to provide humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees, who are living in camps and shelter centers under very difficult conditions, in Damascus and its outskirts.
The campaign, under the slogan of “ loyalty to our families in Sriya” announced that the “ Winter convoy” will be carrying necessary relief material for the displaced persons in the Palestinian refugee camps, and in shelter centers with the onset of winter season.
It is worth noting that the campaign has succeeded in concluding a deal with the concerned authorities to have access to the Palestinian refugee camp “Al-Yarmouk “ which is considered as the biggest camp in Syria, to provide the refugees with necessary relief material and food.
The European Al-Wafaa campaign has already implemented several relief convoys to the benefit of those Palestinian refugees who flee Syria and settled in Jordan , and Lebanon during the last months, while a delegation from the campaign has conducted check visits to those refugees to study their situation and try to alleviate their suffering.
The website of the “Al-Wafaa Campaign” describes its objectives as aiding Palestinian refugees both fleeing Syria as well as those inside the country and claims credit for various aid convoys it says it has organized. However, the Al-Wafaa site also identifies eleven organizations collecting donations for Al-Wafaa, many of which are known to have been either member organizations of the Union Of Good (UOG) or closely tied to it, part of the Gaza Flotilla movement (itself close to the UOG) and/or close to Hamas including:
- Stichting Israa (Dutch UOG member)
- L’Associazione benefica di solidarietà con il Popolo palestinese (Italian UOG member)
- Palestinian Rights Institute (part of the Gaza Flotilla movement)
- La Fundación Comité de Apoyo al Pueblo Palestino (officers also part of PALMED, spun off from the Palestinians in Europe conferences)
- PalMedUK (officers tied to Human Relief UK, a UK UOG member)
- CBSP Switzerland (Swiss UOG member)
In addition, the Al-Wafaa website is registered to Amin Abou Rashed ((aka Amin Abou, Amin Rashid), known to be a Hamas operative residing in the Netherlands. A report by the NEFA Foundation further identifies Mr. Rashed as a part of the now defunct Al-Aqsa Foundation in the Netherlands as well as a leader in a Palestinian advocacy group:
Another former member of the Foundation al-Aqsa recently surfaced in a court case in the United States. In the U.S. government’s prosecution of the Holy Land Foundation, a Texas-based charity charged with funding HAMAS, an exhibit provided a description of the HAMAS support network in Europe. The writer of the document was Amin Abou Ibrahim of the Foundation al-Aqsa in Rotterdam. Since the de facto closure of Foundation al-Aqsa, Amin Abou Ibrahim, whose real name is Amin Rashid, moved on to the Foundation Palestinian Platform for Human Rights and Solidarity (PPMS). This organization was created at the end of 2005 and is by far the most active and most vocal mouthpiece for the Palestinian cause in the Netherlands. Amin Rashid was recently described in the Dutch press as being the chairman of the PPMS, although on the Arabic language website of the organization he is mentioned as being the director. A recent change in the foundation’s board left the chairmanship open.
According to another NEFA Foundation report, the Al-Aqsa Foundation Netherlands was formerly the Dutch member organization of the Union of Good, described as follows:
The Union of Good is a coalition of Islamic charities that provides financial support to both the Hamas “social” infrastructure, as well as its terrorist activities. It is headed by global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi, and most of the trustees and member organizations are associated with the global Muslim Brotherhood. The Union of Good was banned by Israel in 2002 and was recently designated a terrorist entity by the United States, although neither Youssef Qaradawi nor any of the Trustees were similarly designated. Despite the fact that action has been taken against some of its member organizations in Europe, many of its other European member organizations continue to operate. Further, the Union of Good itself does not appear to be under investigation in Europe.
Abou-Rashed was also one of the chief organizers of the 2101 Gaza flotilla and was detained by Israeli authorities in connection with that affair. Various sources also identify Mr. Rashed as a founding member of the European Campaign To End the Siege on Gaza, a part of Gaza flotilla movement and chief sponsor of the abortive 2nd Gaza Flotilla.
It is no surprise that Abou-Rashed may be heading up the newest incarnation of the UOG. In June 2011, a Dutch newspaper published a photograph appearing to show Abou-Rashed as part of a group that included Youssef Qaradawi, the putative UOG leader.
Also no surprise is that the Al-Wafaa website describes aid convoys to the large Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp, located outside Damascus and recently the scene of heavy fighting involving various factions in the Syrian civil war. A December 2012 BBC profile explained how Yarmouk became a Hamas center in Syria:
In addition to banishing the PLO’s leadership, the Syrian government came to see Yarmouk as an opposition stronghold and also arrested thousands of Arafat supporters. Afterwards, residents began to concentrate on commercial, rather than political and military activities. This resulted in Yarmouk becoming a centre of commerce in Damascus, and today tens of thousands of Syrians live and work there. With the PLO’s relations with the Syrian government strained, the Palestinian Islamist movements Hamas and Islamic Jihad sought to fill the political power vacuum in Yarmouk. Leaders from both groups moved in and recruited scores of youths to their causes. Hamas’s political leader Khaled Meshaal lived in Yarmouk until he refused to endorse President Bashar al-Assad’s handling of the uprising against his rule. Once the Hamas Political Bureau had relocated to Egypt and Qatar in early 2012, they declared their wholehearted support of the Syrian opposition.
Last month, Palestinian media published an article with the title “European Institutions Express Deep Concern Over Catastrophic Situation in Yarmouk Refugee Camp.” However, every one of the 20 “European institutes” identified are known to be part of the Hamas support network in Europe, including the “European Initiative to Lift settlements and the wall”, headed by Amin About Rashed. One of the other organizations identified in the article was the Action Group for Palestinians in Syria in London, one of the sponsors of yesterday’s “Workshop on the situation of Palestinian refugees of Syria” held by the Global Muslim Brotherhood.