Palestinians launch campaigns to collect aid for Syrian refugees
Campaigns to collect aid for Syrian refugees have multiplied in Palestinian territories in the past week, as winter conditions in camps threaten the lives of thousands.
In the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sur Baher, Palestinians launched a donations campaign on Sunday that gathered over one million shekels ($300,000) on its first day, according to organisers.
Palestinians in the Shuufat refugee camp north of Jerusalem on Friday launched a similar campaign that had collected by Monday morning more than 600,000 shekels (around $188,000).
Inside Israel, Palestinians gathered over five million shekels ($1.5 million), in a campaign which started last week in the town of Bainah, Galilee. Over the weekend, two more campaigns were announced in Nazareth and Lod.
The trend began after the Islamic Relief Association (IRA), an Islamic charity of Palestinians in Israel, announced it had completed the building of 600 housing units for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in northern Syria, thanks to donations collected from Palestinians in Israel. The association’s campaign has been running for several years.
The IRA did not articulate further on the channels it would use to send funds to Syria, a country under US and EU sanctions.
Shortly after the association's announcement, a Palestinian from Galilee started a campaign online to collect donations to help Syrian refugees through the winter.
Ibrahim Khalil, the founder of the campaign, told Palestinian media on Sunday that he had started legal procedures for the construction of houses for Syrian refugees, without stating the location of the project. According to Khalil, the construction will take between six and eight months.
'We know what it's like'
"We have obtained the approval of Jordanian authorities to deliver the aid ourselves in Jordan's refugee camps, without passing through any institution," Mohammad Khashan, coordinator of the campaign, told The New Arab.
"Participation exceeded all our expectations. We started with the goal of collecting 100,000 shekels, but we collected double of that in the first day alone."
Khashan said that although some donations were just a couple of hundred shekels, for many families the sacrifice means they might not make it financially to the end of the month.
"Many children broke their piggy-banks, and some women gave away their marriage jewellery," Khashan added.
Khashan noted that participation from Palestinians in the campaign was very high.
"We know what it's like to be a refugee. No one understands it like we do, we are refugees ourselves. Our parents went through the experience of losing everything," he stressed.
"We inherited this dispossession and are still living its implications, which is why we relate to Syrian refugees so much."