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Palestinians begin aid campaign, raise $10mn to build homes for Syrian refugees

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A Syrian boy walks at a camp for displaced people near the city of Jisr al-Shughur in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, January 26, 2022. (File photo by AFP)

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip as well as the Arab minority in Israel have launched an aid campaign to build homes for the Syrian refugees displaced by war in the Arab country.

In less than a month, the campaigners managed to raise $10 million for the refugees, activists behind the aid campaign said on Monday.

“The idea was to collect 100 heaters for 100 houses. Then we found out that people are helping and we have lots of stuff,” said Ibrahim Khalil, a social activist from the city of Nazareth.

During the past six years and through a non-profit group called Merciful Souls, Palestinians have been donating food and other essential items to Syrian refugees in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib bordering Turkey.

Raed Badr, the head of the NGO, said the volume of donations this winter season was unprecedented. Merciful Souls plans to build around 3,000 housing units as well as clinics and schools based on a model published on the organization's website, he added.

According to Khalil, organizers hope that construction of the housing units will be completed in six to eight months.

The Arabic hashtag “houses instead of tents” went viral on social media to urge potential contributors to donate.

Khalil further said the images of displaced Syrian families resonated with Palestinians because they had also suffered as refugees living in tents for years, after they were forced by the Israeli regime from their homes or fled in the war that surrounded Israel's creation in 1948.

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