x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Dubai firm building ambulances for Palestinians in Gaza

Red Crescent says medical equipment and drugs needed most.

DUBAI // A local company is building fully equipped ambulances to send to Gaza to help Palestinians wounded in the Israeli attacks. Abu Hamza, whose company, Jordan Industries, is building the ambulances, had intended to build just one but so much money has been donated that four are being built. "The main reason behind this is because of how much the people in Gaza are suffering trying to get the injured people to the hospitals," Mr Hamza said. "Women and children are dying on the roads because there are no ambulances to take them to the hospitals.

"They are being equipped with all the necessary medical kits inside, such as stretchers, first aid kits, and oxygen cylinders, and being given to the Red Crescent who will send them to Gaza." A standard van-type ambulance would usually be sold for about Dh80,000 (US$22,000). Mr Hamza and his team have been able to reduce the price to about Dh55,000 because of discounts from parts companies, allowing them to make more.

The first ambulance is ready to be sent to the Palestinian territory. The others will follow soon. An official from the Red Crescent Authority asked UAE residents to continue sending donations. "Medical equipment is the most urgent items that we need," the official said. "We need supplies and medicine and it is important we get those in first. "We are flooded with donations in all the major centres in the UAE, but we could do with more donation as this is probably the worst violence Gaza has faced."

The ambulance programme started with text messages between friends hoping to collect a few hundred thousand dirhams. But the response they received from friends, friends of friends, and strangers led to a total of Dh1 million. "We are in direct contact with the Red Crescent in Palestine, and they are informing us of what they need, such as items for children, first aid kits and medicines," Mr Hamza said. "This is the least we can do."

The group is also hoping to send generators for hospitals, given that the Palestinian territory has a critical power shortage. "All of Gaza City hospitals have been without mains electricity for 48 consecutive hours, depending entirely on backup generators. The hospitals warn that the generators are close to collapse," a UN report said. Hospitals are low on supplies, and doctors are being forced to attend to victims on the floors of corridors because of the high number of casualties.

nsamaha@thenational.ae shafez@thenational.ae