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Saudi Arabia began providing aid to Gaza

Saudi Arabia announced the government’s humanitarian aid campaign for Gaza on Thursday, collecting more than 60,000 donations worth more than $17 million in the first few hours, The NY Times reported.

King Salman launched the state aid campaign on Thursday, donating $8 million, while his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, donated about $5.3 million.

The country announced the campaign more than three weeks after Israel-Hamas war broke out. Experts attribute Saudi Arabia’s belated response to the government’s somewhat ambivalent reaction to the conflict.

On the one hand, officials have condemned the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip, urging a cease-fire and the creation of a Palestinian state. On the other hand, many Saudis say they are catching signals that public displays of pro-Palestinian sentiment are not exactly welcomed by their government.

This week, a British actor who wore a keffiyeh, a checkered scarf widely seen as a symbol of Palestinian nationalism, while visiting the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Authorities briefly detained and questioned him as well as confiscated the scarf.

The kingdom did not officially declare Hamas a terrorist organisation, but in 2019 Saudi authorities detained and prosecuted several Palestinian residents of the kingdom who had ties to Hamas.

Since the government maintains strict controls on charity, the initial lack of a state-run campaign meant some Saudis found it difficult to send aid to Gazans despite a massive wave of popular support. This view became clear on Thursday when a Saudi relief campaign organised through the government’s King Salman Humanitarian Aid Centre collected tens of thousands of donations within hours.

The head of the centre, Abdulaziz Al Rabea, said the campaign reflected “the kingdom’s historic role” in supporting the brotherly Palestinian people in times of crisis.

Neighbouring United Arab Emirates launched its own humanitarian aid campaign for Gaza on October 13, days after Israel began a siege of the enclave in response to Hamas attacks. Thousands of volunteers gathered to assemble aid packages for Gazans, a notable development in a country that established ties with Israel in 2020.

On Wednesday, Emirati ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan ordered officials to organise medical treatment in Emirati hospitals for 1,000 Palestinian children from the Gaza Strip.

On October 7, Hamas announced Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel. The group’s militants then infiltrated into Israel and started launching rockets from the Gaza Strip.

In response, Israel launched Operation Iron Sword, carrying out a total siege of the Gaza Strip and conducting aerial strikes.


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