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Sunday, 14 April, 2002, 14:53 GMT 15:53 UK
Arab telethons boost Palestinian cause
Donated gold jewellery on display in a TV studio in Bahrain
Jewellery, property and land were all donated
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By Heba Saleh
BBC Correspondent in Cairo

Rulers and citizens in the Gulf Arab states have donated millions of dollars to the Palestinians in fundraising telethons held around the region.

The Saudi organisers of a three-day telethon say they have received donations topping $150m.

Saudi girl puts money into a telethon donation box
The Saudi event raised more than $150m
Money, jewellery, vehicles, food aid and even kidneys have been donated by television viewers moved by the plight of the Palestinians.

As Israel's military offensive in the West Bank continues, a wave of support for the Palestinians has been sweeping across the Arab world.

Demonstrations have raged on the streets of Arab cities, with resentment welling up against what is seen as the inability of Arab leaders to act.

In the oil-rich Gulf countries, governments are now channelling the anger of the citizens into fundraising campaigns, which benefit the Palestinians and pose no threat to local rulers.

Cash and goods

The telethon in Saudi Arabia was so successful that the authorities extended it for three days.

The donations included several kilograms of gold, jewellery, real estate, land and vehicles.

Items donated in Saudi Arabia for the Palestinians are loaded into a truck
Viewers gave household items, food and clothing
The Saudi ruler, King Fahd, gave $4.8m, while business tycoon Prince Al-Walid bin Talal pledged $27m - half in cash and the rest in cars and clothing.

The Saudi interior minister said such expressions of support for the Palestinians were far better than what he described as "demonstrations by mobs".

Many millions have also been raised in the last few days through telethons in Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar, with local leaders contributing generously.

A Saudi man and a woman in the United Arab Emirates even donated their kidneys.

See also:

14 Apr 02 | Middle East
Powell talks peace with Arafat
05 Apr 02 | Middle East
Anti-Israeli anger sweeps Arab world
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