$102,000 Raised for Man Who Donated Prison Labor Earnings to Gaza Relief Efforts

The incarcerated man, who makes just 13 cents an hour as a janitor, says "all God's servants are equal in creation."

Two individuals walking towards destroyed buildings on a debris-filled street
Image via Getty/Yaser F.q. Qudaih/Anadolu
Two individuals walking towards destroyed buildings on a debris-filled street

An incarcerated man’s generosity toward relief efforts for the people of Gaza has inspired strangers to do the same for him.

In February, Justin Mashouf, director of the 2017 documentary The Honest Struggle, shared a photo to social media showing a pay stub from his friend Hamza. As seen in the stub, Hamza had taken it upon himself to donate the $17.74 he earned for 136 hours of prison labor. Broken down as a wage, as Mashouf himself later pointed out, that's roughly 13 cents an hour.

Summarized text from donation receipt by an incarcerated individual for the sum of $17.74 to aid Gaza
Tweet by Justin Mashouf noting someone worked 136.5 hours for about 13 cents an hour to aid people in Gaza, prompting reflection on one's own contributions

Mashouf later announced that a GoFundMe had been set up for his friend after numerous people started asking how they could help the California inmate, who the Washington Post's Maham Javaid notes is expected to be paroled this month after spending almost 40 years behind bars.

"In the 80s, Hamza accidentally fired a gun at a loved one, which [killed] the victim, leading to his imprisonment for over four decades," Mashouf wrote on GoFundMe. "He has lived with the pain of losing his family member due to his own mistake every day for decades. While in prison, he has become a devout Muslim and has been pleading for parole for decades."

The GoFundMe, donations to which have since been disabled, ultimately raised over $102,000 for Hamza. These funds are slated to be put toward housing, clothing, transportation, and more for Hamza upon his release.

In an interview with the Post, Mashouf said Hamza had been inspired to donate his prison labor earnings after becoming “very anxious about the state of the world.”

Complex has reached out to reps for GoFundMe for comment. In a statement shared on the GoFundMe page and via Mashouf's social media, Hamza expressed gratitude for those who had contributed to the fundraiser.

“I must ask each of you now to please, please, please look upon and consider the suffering children, mothers and fathers of Palestine, Yemen, and Africa living under inhuman conditions, being bombed every hour of the day, without water, shelter, medication and food who are ordinary people and citizens just like all of you living their lives having not a thing to do with the politicians,” Hamza wrote.

He also urged reading his message to remember that “all God’s servants are equal in creation,” meaning that “the lives of our brothers and sisters who are Palestinians are as precious and inviolable as the life of an Israeli.”

The image shows a Twitter post by Justin Mashouf responding to Hamza's decision to suspend his campaign, including a lengthy quoted text

Hamza's moving act of kindness was first revealed to the world the same week that a U.S. airman died following a self-immolation protest outside the Embassy of Israel in Washington, D.C.

"I am an active-duty member of the United States Air Force and I will no longer be complicit in genocide," Aaron Bushnell said in a video shared to social media in February by journalist Talia Jane. "I’m about to engage in an extreme act of protest. But compared to what people have been experiencing in Palestine at the hands of their colonizers, it’s not extreme at all. This is what our ruling class has decided will be normal.”

As Bushnell's body burned, he repeatedly shouted "Free Palestine!" while a law enforcement officer was seen pointing a gun at him.

While the Biden administration recently received a ton of coverage for airdropping an estimated 38,000 meals over the Gaza area, many on social media were quick to point out how this number paled in comparison to, say, a Gaza aid effort from The Weeknd last year.

For perspective that’s over 100x more meals than Biden just airdropped to Gaza https://t.co/qZlxZVYngM

— Mac (@GoodPoliticGuy) March 4, 2024

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