Haydar ’Abd al-Shafi

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Dr. Haydar 'Abd al-Shafi (1919-2007), also transliterated as Haidar Abdel-Shafi, was born in Gaza, one of the six children of Sheikh Muheiddin Abdel-Shafi. He led the Palestinian delegation at the Madrid peace conference in 1991.

Attended primary school in Gaza; secondary education as a boarder at the Arab College in Jerusalem, graduated 1936. Left for Beirut, to study medicine at the American University, where he joined the Arab Nationalist Movement (dedicated to Arab nationalism and the founding of a Palestinian state). Graduated 1943, went to work at the British mandate government's Municipal Hospital (Mustashfa Al-Baladiya) in Jaffa.

In 1944 joined the Jaysh al-Badiah (desert army) of the British Jordanian Army, then part of a new British Ninth Army intended to open a second front - which never materialized - in the Balkans. Spent the war instead in various locations in Palestine: Al-Azraq, Ashona, Jericho, Gaza. Resigned his commission at war's end; returned to Gaza and entered private practice. Co-founded a branch of the Palestine Medical Society (1945), and participated in the first Palestine Medical Congress in 1946.

Provided medical support to Palestinian guerillas in the clashes between Jews and Arabs following the UN partition resolution in 1947. Ran a medical clearing station in Gaza the first Arab-Israeli war (1948), when Gaza was flooded with 200,000 refugees. Worked closely with the Quakers, who provided humanitarian relief for Gaza Palestinians until UNRWA was established in 1951. Left Gaza for the US, where he studied surgery at the Miami Valley Hospital in Dayton, Ohio. Returned to Gaza - now Egyptian-ruled - in 1954, worked as a surgeon for the Egyptians at the Tal Zahur Hospital.

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Emil Touma   • Gaza_Community_Mental_Health_Programme   • Sami Abdel-Shafi   • Palestinian_National_Liberation_League   • Council for Palestinian Restitution and Repatriation

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