Indonesia and Turkey hoping Gaza scout camp can be held
Turkish scout leader says if other world members not willing to participate, Turkish scout federation is 'definitely in with Indonesia.'

Scout motto "be prepared" could soon be under serious scrutiny if Indonesia and Turkey get their way - they want to hold a camp for thousands of scouts from around the world in the Gaza Strip.

Indonesia's scout movement chairman Adhyaksa Dault told the Antara news agency Tuesday that a proposal to hold an International Scout Peace Camp in the besieged territory was raised during a visit to the Palestinian Embassy in Jakarta and he expects it to be approved at the Aug. 11 to Aug. 15 World Scout Conference in Slovenia.

"This is an initiative by Indonesia. If the ceasefire is upheld by both sides, and conditions in the Gaza Strip become more conducive, we will call on the world's scout movements to visit Gaza as Palestine has also had a scout movement called the Palestinian Scout Association since 1948," Antara quoted Adhyaksa as saying.

He said that the idea was in line with the ten principles of being a boy scout, in particular "love for nature and humanity" and "willingness to help and be steadfast."

"For the scout movement, wherever it is, the conflict in Gaza is not related to religion... it is a humanitarian crisis," he said.

Hasan Dincer Subasi, the president of Turkey's Scout federation, confirmed Tuesday that the camp will be one of the "hot topics" up for discussion at the Slovenia meeting, adding "at least half the registered 25,000 scouts we have in Turkey eligible to go are ready to go.”

He said that the world scout federation already has Palestinian scouts trained in Turkey working in hospitals in Gaza.

"If the other world members are not willing to participate in the camp, then the Turkish scout federation is definitely in with Indonesia," he underlined.

Brata Hardjosubroto, an Indonesian delegation member for the conference, told the Jakarta Post on Tuesday that the camp would expect scout participation from Palestine, and neighboring countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Israel.

"Of course, it will be difficult but possible if full support is provided by the" World Organization of Scout Movements, he said.

Israel has battered the already blockaded Gaza Strip -- home to 1.8 million people -- since July 7 with the alleged aim of halting rocket fire.

Since then, at least 1,851 Palestinians have been killed and nearly 9,500 others injured in persistent Israeli attacks on the embattled strip while 64 Israeli soldiers have been killed in battles with Palestinian fighters.

Gaza's Minister of Public Works Mufeed al-Hasayneh said Monday that the offensive had caused over $5 billion of damage to homes and infrastructure.

Large swathes of the territory have been reduced to rubble, entire neighborhoods have been leveled, and the territory's only power plant has been shut down after being shelled on July 29.

According to United Nations figures, up to 485,000 people - a quarter of Gaza's population - have been forced to leave their homes throughout the assault, many of whom will return to find them destroyed or damaged.

Last Modified: 2014-08-06 09:18:54
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