LONDON: An athlete who raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity during Ramadan has started a new campaign with the goal of raising $70,000 to donate toward emergency humanitarian relief for Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian territories.
Haroon Mota plans to run four marathons in around four weeks, a total of 105 miles, to raise awareness and funding to help Palestinians deal with the humanitarian crisis spurred by a devastating campaign of airstrikes and artillery bombardments conducted against militants and civilians in Gaza.
More than 200 people were killed and 1,300 injured by Israeli strikes during 12 days of fighting in Gaza — exasperating an already dire economic and humanitarian situation for the tiny territory’s 2 million inhabitants.
“It was hard for me to ignore the plight of the Palestinian people,” Mota told Arab News. “For me as a fundraiser and humanitarian it is the one thing we do best: trying to respond to not just natural disasters but the consequences of war and conflict.”
As a Muslim, he said, he has strong feelings for Palestine and the Palestinian people.
“It hurts when you see so much suffering,” said Mota, who is the fundraising manager at Islamic Charity Penny Appeal.
“I am hoping to raise $70,000 to fund humanitarian relief projects in Palestine. A lot of that will be spent in Gaza where the biggest humanitarian crisis exists — it is very much a catastrophe.”
Mota continued: “It is important not just to raise funds for the Palestinian cause, but also to raise awareness of the plight of Palestinians.
“While people are debating politics during conflict and war, it is easy to forget these are real people and real lives that are being affected. I am running for them, these people who know nothing but war and who struggle on a daily basis.”
Mota has carried out various fundraising drives in the past for Penny Appeal, but he said the humanitarian crisis in Gaza means this new drive is the most ambitious yet.
“I run because I have a choice. I put on my running shoes and go outside to run. In comparison, people are having to run from bombs; they do not have a choice,” he said.
“It is these people I have in mind. I hope I can inspire people to give and contribute, but also consider different ways to support from a humanitarian perspective.”
Mota will train for the next few months before the final stage of his challenge begins with the Berlin Marathon in late September. The London, Chicago and New York Marathons will follow shortly after.
Mota said: “I am encouraging people to get behind me and follow my journey on social media. If anybody wishes to follow in my footsteps and run for the Palestinian cause, now is a great time to make that commitment.”