S'poreans sending aid to Palestinians urged to do so through local fund-raising drives

Singaporeans who wish to help victims of the violence in the Gaza Strip should send their donations through the RLAF and the Singapore Red Cross. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Singaporeans concerned with the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and who are keen to help victims of the recent violence should channel their donations through the Rahmatan Lil Alamin Foundation (RLAF) and the Singapore Red Cross, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim.

Both organisations are working with the United Nations Relief and Work Agency (UNRWA) for Palestine, and have raised over $1.8 million so far, he said in a Facebook post on Monday (May 24). He also urged people to be mindful of the dangers in making donations through unverified overseas groups.

In his post, Associate Professor Faishal, who is also Minister of State for National Development, said it was unacceptable that Israel appears to have used disproportionate force and violence against the Palestinian people, including children.

"Yes, there have been attacks on Israelis, rockets sent into Israel, and Hamas has tried to provoke the Israelis. But overall, I am very disturbed by Israel's actions : the manner in which the arguments first started, and the way in which Israel has used disproportionate force against innocent people, including children," he said.

"It's unacceptable, and very tragic. And it has come during this holy period for Muslims," he added.

Prof Faishal also said he was glad both sides have now agreed to a ceasefire, bringing an end to violence that has gone on for almost two weeks.

The 11-day engagement, triggered by clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem at the end of Ramadan, saw rockets fired by Hamas, which controls Gaza, towards Israel as well as Israeli air strikes.

The conflict left more than 220 dead, including 12 Israelis. Humanitarian officials say the damage to Gaza will take years to rebuild at a cost of tens of millions of dollars.

"There have been many enquiries from Singaporeans on how they can help, especially because of the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza," said Prof Faishal, who noted that some locals have even initiated their own fund-raising efforts.

"I truly appreciate and applaud Singaporeans' human spirit and deep sense of compassion. I would also caution all to be mindful of the dangers in making donations through unverified overseas groups - you don't know where the money goes, or how it is used," he added.

Following the ceasefire last Friday , the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Singapore Government would donate US$100,000 ($133,000) as seed money for the Singapore Red Cross to launch a public appeal for cash donations to provide supplies for immediate relief.

Last Saturday, the RLAF launched its fund-raising drive to provide aid in the form of health, relief and social services, and donations surpassed $800,000 in the first 12 hours.

This included a $200,000 donation by supermarket chain Sheng Shiong, whose chief executive Lim Hock Chee handed a cheque to RLAF CEO Muhammad Faizal Othman at the Yusof Ishak Mosque.

Mr Lim said: "Sheng Siong has always strived to help the community. So, this sum of money is a way for us to give back and help the people in Palestine."

Members of the public seeking to donate to the RLAF drive, which ends on Sunday, can do so via various online platforms.

More details can be found on this website.

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