Building better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians through health


In the latest edition of the Australian Philanthropic Services (APS) newsletter, read by many individuals with family foundations, leading businessman, philanthropist and APS Board Member, David Gonski AC, has shared the story of what motivated him to become involved with Project Rozana, through the story of a mother and daughter from the West Bank, who have inspired better healthcare for thousands.

In 2017 my wife Orli and I travelled to Israel as part of an Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce delegation. As Orli is a Paediatric Dermatologist, we visited Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem while we were there and heard first-hand about an amazing project called ‘Rozana’.

Project Rozana began when four-year-old Rozana Salawhi fell from a ninth-floor apartment in a village near Ramallah. Her mother Maysa knew the West Bank medical services could not cope with an emergency case like Rozana’s. Her badly-injured daughter’s survival depended on her reaching an Israeli hospital, and on the co-operation of the Palestinian and Israeli ambulances getting her through the checkpoints quickly. It was a brave decision that paid off. Rozana got through in time and after months in Hadassah Hospital, not only survived but thrived. What could have been a tragedy for Maysa and Rozana sparked a new project helping Palestinians to get access to the best medical care in Israel.

Over the past two years Project Rozana has raised over USD$1 million and positively touched the lives of over 6,000 Palestinians and Israelis.

Melbourne-based businessman Ron Finkel AM realised that health, more than any other sector, has the capacity to create meaningful relationships between ordinary Israelis and Palestinians. He set-up Project Rozana to transport and treat critically-ill children from the West Bank and Gaza in Israeli hospitals. The organisation also funds the training of Palestinian doctors, nurses and therapists in Israel, to improve and expand healthcare in Palestinian communities. A donation of as little as $500 can provide three months of vital free weekly transportation for Palestinian children from Gaza and the West Bank in need of life-saving medical treatment in hospitals in Israel. Orli and I were so touched by what we saw at Hadassah Hospital, we have provided significant support to Project Rozana for the next three years.”