MPs, government, preachers and activists launch Gaza support activities [Archives:2009/1225/Local News]

January 15 2009

By: Nadia Al-Sakkaf
SANA'A, Jan. 14 ) More than one third of MPs are organizing the launch of a tent dedicated to the people of Gaza. The tent which is to be set up in the coming few days will be located on Hadda road and will comprise an exhibition, a donation desk, a petition desk, and a place to sign up for fighting in Gaza, said MP Sultan Al-Samiee member of the Socialist Party's political office.

“We wanted to hold an urgent session in Parliament but, despite the demand coming from 109 MPs from the various political blocks, the Parliaments presidency denied our request because he thought such a session would be useless. Now we are holding the activities outside the Parliament and including others from the private sector,” he said.

The MPs were distraught at the events in Gaza and wanted to do something about it. Condemnation by the public and officials has been ongoing since the first Israeli attack on Gaza earlier this month. Many youths have indicated their desire to go and fight in Gaza if given the opportunity, and many Yemenis have donated money to support the Palestinians in Gaza. Mosque preachers have launched various donation stalls, especially during the Friday congregation. For example, one Friday sermon at Al-Rahman Mosque in the Al-Asbahi district of Sana'a has gathered more than YR seven million, SR 23,000, USD 15,000, a car, eight mobile phones, around 145 grams of gold, and one watch donated from a child, according to Fuad Al-Himyari preacher of the mosque.

Simultaneously, joint private-public venture Yemen Telecommunication Group which includes Yemen Mobile, Tele Yemen and Yemen Net and private telecommunication companies MTN, Sabafone and Y have made calls to Gaza free of charge. Customers can call Gaza from both landlines and mobile phones. Moreover, Y, Yemen Mobile, Sabafone and MTN mobile companies have also facilitated donations from their customers through a specific short code texting service or dialing.

“We were given presidential instructions to open phone lines to Gaza for free. By calling Palestinians we can give them moral support and tell them that they are not alone,” said Nouraddeen Wahhass, marketing manager of Yemen Mobile.

Mobile phone users received a text message yesterday informing them of the opportunity to call Gaza free of charge. Yet despite numerous attempts, the lines to Gaza were continuously busy. The companies' service line operators explained that there is an overload on the lines since many Yemenis jumped at the chance to speak with people in Palestine. Earlier this week, Yemen's request to open channels for five hundred injured Palestinians to be treated in Yemeni hospitals was denied by the Egyptian government. An alternative request to send Yemeni doctors to Gaza was also denied, although negotiations between Yemen and Egypt are still ongoing in this regard.