At the start of last week, when the full dimensions of the carnage in the south started to become apparent, the owner of a bicycle store in the Israeli Arab town of Tayiba decided to donate 50 bicycles to Israeli children evacuated from the Gaza border area. The reaction from the Arab residents of Tayiba was not sympathetic.
Inis, the wife of the bicycle store owner Alaa, said, "We have lived in Tzur Yitzhak (a nearby Jewish town) for eight years, and when the war started, residents here contributed the new houses to evacuees from the south. These are new buildings with nothing inside so everybody contributed and so did we. A day later an article was published about our donation.
"At two in the morning they broke into our store. It filled up with people who looted everything and then set light to the store. In the morning the police came to our house and told us that our store had been burned down, but they prevented us from going to the store. We let them finish looting, and do whatever they wanted. We do not have insurance, because in the Arab sector it is not customary to insure electric bicycles, due to fear of the battery exploding."
Somebody who heard about the story was Yonatan, a young Israeli entrepreneur who was on a trip to Vietnam. "I saw many responses from people who wanted to donate, and I decided to run a crowdfunding campaign with the help of the Giveback team," he told "Globes." "I contacted the bike store through Facebook, and checked if they had insurance, and if people were transferring money to them. They said that right now everything is bank transfers, and the damage was estimated at NIS 800,000."
According to Yonatan, when he started to run the crowdfunding campaign, the target amount was NIS 10,000. "I didn't think I would make it, then I started spreading the initiative in my WhatsApp and Facebook groups, and very quickly people started donating.
"Hundreds of thousands of shekels were already raised that evening, so we updated the target to NIS 700,000. There are a lot of people looking for something to do, and sometimes they hesitate because they don't know that a fundraising campaign is actually something simple that doesn't take much time."
This week Yonatan returned to Israel, with the aim of serving in the reserves.
"We donated more bicycles"
Inis said, "I didn't ask him at all what a campaign is, we don't understand these things. I talked to him a bit, and he is a really nice guy. We have another small store in Tira, which we opened a year and a half ago, and we also received threats about it, so we closed it. The economic damage is very high. We are waiting to see how much we can raise, and then we hope to open a store elsewhere. "My husband and I and the children currently do not leave the house. But even after everything that happened, we did not for one second regret what we did. It has nothing to do with the issue of Arabs or Jews, these are just small children. Any child who needs help, we will help him. We cannot treat children like adults with everything that is happening here in Israel, and we will continue to donate. Even after the incident we donated ten pairs of bicycles to a hotel. We will continue to be there."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on October 18, 2023.
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