Saudi Arabia announced a campaign to collection aid items for Gaza on Thursday, and within hours it had collected donations worth over $34 million from 219,874 donors.
Over two million Palestinians are currently without clean water, food, electricity or fuel due to Israel’s war on Hamas. Over 100,000 homes have been destroyed in the air strikes.
“Under the generous guidance of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center launches the popular campaign for the relief of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip,” the Saudi government-led fundraising page said, according to a machine translation.
The strikes have been constant for three weeks, but Israel had not allowed aid to begin entering until earlier this week.
The New York Times reports, “King Salman kicked off the state aid campaign on Thursday with an $8 million donation, while his son, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, donated around $5.3 million.”
“Because the government maintains strict controls on charitable giving — originally put in place over counterterrorism concerns — the initial lack of a state-led campaign meant that some Saudis found it difficult to send aid to Gazans, despite a groundswell of popular support for them in the kingdom,” the report added.
Dr Abdullah al-Rabeeah, head of the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre, said in a statement that the campaign “comes within the framework of the Kingdom’s well-known historic role in standing with the brotherly Palestinian people,” according to a report from Barrons.
Saudi Arabia has condemned the Hamas attack on October 7, but expressed concern about Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people.
“The Kingdom recalls its repeated warnings of the dangers of the explosion of the situation as a result of the continued occupation, and deprivation of the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights, and the repetition of systematic provocations against its sanctities,” the government said in a statement after the Hamas attack.
According to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza, the strikes have killed 9,061 Palestinians, including over 3,760 children.
Though U.S. President Joe Biden has expressed doubt about the reported number of deaths, the ministry’s numbers have historically been accurate.
“The State Department has regularly cited ministry statistics without caveats in its annual human rights reports,” the Washington Post reported in a fact check of Biden’s statement. “The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which tracks deaths in the conflict, has found the ministry’s numbers to be reliable after conducting its own investigation. ‘Past experience indicated that tolls were reported with high accuracy,’ an OCHA official told The Fact Checker.”