An Israeli-led crowdfunding campaign has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Palestinian residents of a West Bank town that was set ablaze by radical Jewish settlers, the organizer of the drive said Thursday. Some 12,000 Israelis have donated nearly 1.7 million shekels—$465,000—since the campaign was launched this week. The fundraising effort was a rare instance of cooperation between Israelis and Palestinians at a time when tensions have been surging between the sides over spiraling violence, the AP reports. Scores of Israeli settlers went on a violent rampage in the northern West Bank town of Hawara late on Sunday, setting dozens of cars and homes on fire after two settlers were killed by a Palestinian gunman there earlier in the day.
One Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire during the incident, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. The rampage, the worst such violence in decades, prompted Israeli activist Yaya Fink, an observant Jew, to launch the fundraising initiative. “I had very bad feelings for when I saw hundreds of religious Jews tried to burn Hawara, including innocent people," he said, adding that the campaign delivers a message that "the majority of the Jews are against extremism, against racism." " I invite all those who love Israel and do not want to lose faith in humanity to donate any amount to help the innocent residents whose homes were damaged in last night's riots," he wrote on the crowdfunding page.
He said most of the money was raised within the campaign's first 12 hours. Fink said the money will be sent as compensation to Palestinians whose property was damaged in the attack. He said he received threats from opponents to the campaign, who called him a traitor for raising money for the Palestinians, even as some are carrying out attacks. Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, head of the military's Central Command in charge of the West Bank, said this week the army was not prepared for the intensity of the Hawara violence, which he called a "pogrom done by outlaws." (One Israeli official says the town should be "erased.")