Siak, Riau (ANTARA) - Head of Siak district, Riau province, Alfedri, informed on Monday that he has handed over Rp1.35 billion (around US$86,000) collected from the district in the first stage of fundraising for Palestine to the National Alms Agency (Baznas).

The Siak government carried out the fundraising from October 18, 2023, to November 10, gathering donations from community members, local government officials, and the Baznas-Siak Office.

The funds, collected for "infaq" (voluntary charity) at local mosques during Friday prayers and by the district government at various events, have been handed over to the head for national coordination at Baznas, Achmad Sudrajat, in Jakarta, he said.

Alfredi said that a second stage of fundraising for Palestine will be held from November 13 until the end of the month. Civil servants, contract employees, and village administration officials are being encouraged to donate.

"May this second stage of fundraising be able to collect Rp2 billion in donations. The charity funds will hopefully help our brothers and sisters in Palestine," he said.

Meanwhile, Sudrajat said that he appreciates the Siak district government and Baznas-Siak Office for their humanitarian fundraising initiative for Palestine.

He added that his agency will distribute the humanitarian funds without delay to those in need in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Fresh armed conflict erupted between Palestine and Israel following a surprise attack by Hamas on Israel early in the morning of October 7.

Prior to the assault by Palestinian liberation fighters, the Israeli government had continued its closure of Gaza crossings.

Palestine's news agency WAFA reported on September 25 that the Israeli closure of Gaza crossings had worsened the living conditions of Palestinians in Gaza.

According to WAFA, the Palestinians were already suffering from the severe impact of "more than 17 years of tight Israeli land, sea, and air blockades."

Al Jazeera quoted Hamas, which governs Gaza, as stating that its assault on Israel was "a response to the desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and increased settler violence."

In response to the unprecedented surprise attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared war on Hamas. According to Al Jazeera, he pledged that Israeli forces would "turn all Hamas hideouts into rubble."

The Israeli bombardment of Gaza, followed by a ground invasion in the besieged enclave, has reportedly killed more than 11 thousand Palestinian civilians so far.

Two-thirds of those killed in Gaza are women and children, Al Jazeera reported.

The Israeli aggression has also triggered a humanitarian crisis and caused hospitals to suspend operations due to the unavailability of fuel and water supplies.

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Translator: Bayu AA, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Anton Santoso
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