Islamist media is reporting on the launch of a $1 billion campaign ostensibly for the rebuilding of the Gaza strip and initiated by a new organization headed by a well known UK Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood figure. According to the Middle East Memo report, the first forum of the Popular International Committee to Support the Gaza Strip was held in Istanbul and sponsored by Qatar Charity:
September 1, 2014 The Popular International Committee to Support the Gaza Strip launched a campaign yesterday to raise $1 billion for the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip; $100 million is set to support shelter and emergency relief services in the enclave.
The committee, which held its first forum in Istanbul, announced the formation of the Popular International Committee to Support the Gaza Strip.
The participants called for the activation of relief campaigns and convoys to break the Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and to continue organising international activities to support Gaza, demanding Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories come to an end.
They stressed on the need to take all legal measures before local and international courts wherever possible to prosecute Israeli officials for their crimes against civilians in the Gaza Strip and urged the Palestinian unity government to assume its responsibilities towards the Gaza Strip and its citizens without discrimination or distinction and to lifting the Israeli blockade as well as the establishment of the port and the airport.
They also called on Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing to allow the transfer of aid and construction materials as well as humanitarian convoys to meet the Palestinians’ needs and facilitate the exit of wounded individuals.
The two day forum, which was attended by 250 participants from 35 countries representing more than 70 foundations, was sponsored by Qatar Charity.
The participants presented research papers highlighting the Israeli aggression and its implication on the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.
The forum aimed to unify grassroots efforts to provide a helping hand to the Gaza Strip and to organise and accelerate the delivery of aid to the needy as well as to identify the enclave’s needs. The event included a presentation of the Miles of Smiles convoy’s efforts which includes more than 50 charitable organisations from more than 15 countries.”
- Essam Yusuf was identified as the head of the new organization. Mr Yusuf is also the long time head of INTERPAL , an important UK Palestinian charity, and former head of the Union of Good, both important parts of the global Hamas fund-raising network. He is also the head of the “Miles of Smiles” Gaza convoys referred to in the above report and which are close to Hamas in Gaza.
- Wael Saqqa was identified as head of the founding forum for the new organization. Mr. Saqqa is a Jordanian engineer, long-time member of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood and founder of the Arab And International Commission To Build Gaza, discussed below.
- Zaher Birawi was identified as the coordinator of the International Campaign to Break the Siege on Gaza (ICBSG), a part of the Gaza flotilla movement who’s Vice-President is Mohammad Sawalha, a former Hamas commander and a leader in the UK Muslim Brotherhood. Mr. Birawi is the long time media and public relations spokesperson for the Palestinian Forum in Britain (PFB) , a part of the UK Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas support infrastructure and also a director of the Palestine Return Centere (PRC) which has also strong ties to Hamas and to the Global Muslim Brotherhood. In July 2012, we reported on a meeting with Hamas leaders that included Mr. Birawi.
The Popular International Committee to Support the Gaza Strip appears to have had its origins in the Arab And International Commission To Build Gaza (AICBG) which was founded in 2009 by Wael Saqqa. At that time, he AICBG included the following individuals as members of its board of directors:
- Wael Saqqa (Chairman of the Board)
- Ahmet Davutoglu (then Turkish President)
- Necati Ceylan ( President of the Türkiye Gönüllü Te?ekkülleri Vakf? (TGTV) , an umbrella group founded in 1994 to foster ties amongst Islamist NGOs in Turkey.
- Osama al-Issawi Member (Hamas Minister)
The establishment of the The Popular International Committee to Support the Gaza Strip is judged by the GMBDW to be an important development seemingly aimed at merging Hamas fundraising and the Gaza flotilla movement to be led by well-known Hamas/Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders and under Qatari and Turkish auspices. The GMBDW reported last week that the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH), a Turkish group close to the Global Muslim Brotherhood, has signed a ‘strategic cooperation agreement’ with Qatar Charity. As noted in that post, Turkey has become a new center for the global Brotherhood as evidenced by the numerous GMB meetings being held in Istanbul and the somewhat over the top praise lavished on Recep Tayyip Erdogan by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi who recently declared Istanbul to be the seat of the Islamic Caliphate. Qatar in turn is a major sponsor of the Global Muslim Brotherhood networks though its official and quasi-official organizations such as Qatar Charity, the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies, and the Qatar Foundation. Youssef Qaradawi and Hamas political leader Khaled Meshaal are also hosted and resident in Qatar. The establishment of this latest organization is further evidence of the growing importance of Qatar and Turkey as state sponsors of the Global Muslim Brotherhood. The GMBDW also judges that the framing of the new organization’s purpose as reconstruction aid for Gaza is a clever strategic move designed to make it difficult for opponents of Hamas to block funds from entering Gaza. As the building of a massive tunnel network (partly aided by Qatar) has shown, it will be impossible to prevent Hamas from using the aid for military purposes and Hamas leaders have already declared “Our resistance will continue until all our demands are met and we are getting closer to victory and al-Quds (Jerusalem).”