Saudis mobilise to raise aid for Palestinians

The Saudi government and public raised millions of dollars in financial aid to the Palestinians in a telethon than was continuing through Saturday night, as well as pledging food aid. Already $114 million was raised in donations to Palestinians on a state television fundraiser which started on Thursday and was continuing through Saturday night on the orders of Saudi King Fahd. The Saudi Defense Minister Sultan Abdul Aziz said on Saturday that financial donations were more useful than demonstrations, which are banned in the country. "The collection of donations for the Palestinian people is more useful than demonstrations that are often characterized by chaos", Sultan told members of the press in Riyad. He added that "every country and every people express in their own way their support for the Palestinians. The kingdom supports all positive action that serves the Palestinians by giving them money or arms". People from all walks of life took part in the telethon fund-raising campaign. Businessmen, members of the royal family, clerics, women, children and men, nationals and expatriates all contributed. Even domestic helpers made donations. Some $93 million of the donations were in cash and the rest in kind, including several kilograms of gold, jewelry, real estate, land, vehicles and countless other items. Saudi tycoon, Prince Al-Walid bin Talal bin Abdul Aziz, announced a gift of 100 million riyals ($27 million) -- half in cash and the rest in vehicles and clothing to help rebuild Palestinian infrastructure, destroyed by Israel during the 18-month Palestinian uprising or intifada. King Fahd gave $5.3 million. The telethon was sponsored by the Committee for Support of the Al-Aqsa Intifada. The Committee is headed by Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayez Bin Abdul Aziz. The committee Saturday also pledged 10.51 million riyals ($2.86 million) in emergency food aid for 200,000 Palestinian families. In a communique, Prince Nayef said that he had coordinated with "charitable associations in Palestine" to ensure that the food aid would be delivered to the families. He added that the supplies would be sufficient to support them for 20 days.