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New Zealand activists raise funds for Palestine charity after fine by Israel

By Lidia Kelly

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Two New Zealand pro-Palestinian activists have raised NZ$14,000 (6,923 pounds) as of Sunday for charity after being fined by an Israeli court for their alleged role in persuading pop star Lorde to cancel a concert in Tel Aviv last year.

Justine Sachs and Nadia Abu-Shanab said last week they would not pay the fine of 45,000 shekels ($12,423.05) awarded to three Israeli teenagers, calling the court's ruling a "stunt" intended to intimidate Israel's critics.

Instead, they asked people to donate money through website "givealittle.co.nz" to the Gaza Mental Health Foundation, a volunteer group that raises funds for mental health and women's empowerment groups in the Gaza Strip.

As of Sunday, they raised NZ$14,000, according to the website.

"Given that we've actually had this kind of push upon us – we felt that it was expedient to actually recenter the issue back on Palestine," Abu-Shanab told Radio New Zealand.

The case arose from an open letter that Sachs and Abu-Shanab wrote to Lorde, a New Zealander, on the website "thespinoff.co.nz" in December urging her to call off her planned concert.

Lorde cancelled her concert in Israel that same month after a campaign by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) group, which campaigns for Palestinian rights, that included the open letter published by Sachs and Abu-Shanab.

(Reporting by Lidia Kelly; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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