Gulf states pledge $100m in ‘urgent’ aid for Gaza

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The Gulf Cooperation Council on Tuesday announced $100 million in emergency aid for the Gaza Strip, as Israel bombards targets in the enclave during its war against Hamas militants.

After an extraordinary meeting in Muscat, the bloc’s foreign ministers pledged “an urgent humanitarian relief operation” with “relief aid worth $100 million.”

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The top diplomats of the six GCC countries -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- met as at least 200 people were killed in strikes on a Gaza hospital compound sheltering displaced people, said Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Israel’s retaliatory bombing raids have killed around 3,000 Gazans after the Palestinian militants of Hamas burst through Israel’s heavily fortified Gaza border 11 days ago in a surprise attack, killing 1,400 people in southern Israel.

The GCC meeting’s final statement stressed “the necessity of ensuring the urgent delivery of this aid.”

In recent days, Gulf countries have sent plane-loads of assistance to Egypt’s El Arish, hoping to send it through the Rafah border point -- Gaza’s only crossing that is not under Israeli control.

On Tuesday, hundreds of laden trucks headed along the 40-kilometre (25-mile) road from El Arish to Rafah, aid officials said.

So far Egypt has kept the Rafah crossing closed, both to aid going in and foreign nationals trying to flee, as Israel has repeatedly struck the Palestinian side of the crossing.

GCC Secretary-General Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi “called on the international community to... demand an immediate halt to all forms of military escalation against defenseless civilians in Gaza”, an English statement on the GCC website said.

The international community must also “categorically reject any calls to forcibly displace the Palestinian people from Gaza, as this represents a violation of basic human rights and international principles,” it added.

With AFP

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