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  Wednesday, February 19, 2020
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Six Persian Gulf states have pledged $1.64 billion
Six Persian Gulf states have pledged $1.64 billion to help the Palestinians rebuild the Gaza Strip after the enclave was devastated by an Israeli assault at the start of the year, Arab media said on Monday.

The decision was taken on Sunday in the Saudi capital, Riyadh at a foreign ministers' meeting of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a trade block comprising Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman.

"The GCC countries are keen and committed to standing by the Palestinian people in their efforts to reconstruct Gaza," the U.A.E's Gulf News cited a joint statement as saying.

A special inter-Arab committee was set up to implement the program. The committee will have an office in Gaza to coordinate the financial operations, reconstruction work and deliveries of construction materials. The program is open to all Arab League members.

International donors are due to meet in Egypt's Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday to discuss the reconstruction of the impoverished Gaza Strip. The conference will be attended by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, her first visit to the Middle East since being appointed to the post.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and members of the Middle East peace Quartet - the EU, Russia, the UN and the U.S. - will also gather at the Red Sea resort on the sidelines of the conference.

More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed and 5,000 injured during Israel's three-week military operation in Gaza in January. The attack was launched by Tel Aviv to try and prevent militants firing rockets at southern Israeli towns from the Hamas-controlled enclave.

According to the Saudi Arabian Asharq Alawsat newspaper, the Israeli operation completely or partially destroyed over 14,000 homes and about 100 buildings belonging to governmental, international and public organizations. About 600 tons of rubble needs to be cleared.


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