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Donor Nations Gather at Sharm el-Sheik to Fund Gaza Reconstruction


Representatives of dozens of donor nations are gathering in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt, with a goal of raising billions of dollars to rebuild the Gaza Strip after Israel's military offensive.

A spokesman for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the U.S. will pledge $900 million in support for Palestinians at Monday's conference, with $300 million earmarked for aid in the Gaza Strip.

The six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council said Sunday they would contribute $1.65 billion.

The Palestinian Authority says it needs to raise $2.8 billion to reconstruct Gaza.

Clinton's spokesman said $600 million of the U.S. aid will go to the Palestinian Authority to cover budget shortfalls, institutional reforms and economic development. Clinton has said none of the U.S. money will be transferred to Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and was not invited to the donors' conference.

This trip is Clinton's first to the Middle East as U.S. secretary of state. After the conference, Clinton is scheduled to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told his Cabinet that Israel will not tolerate continued rocket fire from Palestinian militants. Israel's military says 110 rockets and mortars have hit the country since January 18, when it ended a three-week assault on Hamas militants who control Gaza.

Hamas also declared a cease-fire in January.

In another development, Gaza medics say five Palestinians were killed Sunday when a smuggling tunnel collapsed under Gaza's border with Egypt. Smugglers have been using a network of cross-border tunnels to bring goods and weapons into Gaza.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.


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