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Israel destroys US-built wells

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  • ummyakoub
    Israel destroys US-built wells By Justin Huggler in Jerusalem 05 November 2003 http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=460551 The US
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 8, 2003
      Israel destroys US-built wells

      By Justin Huggler in Jerusalem
      05 November 2003

      http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=460551

      The US has reportedly complained after the Israeli army destroyed
      wells built
      for civilians in Gaza by an American government aid agency.

      Huge areas have been demolished by the Israelis in the Gaza Strip in
      recent
      weeks, including more than 150 homes.

      The wells had just been dug by the United States Agency for
      International
      Development (USAid). A few months ago the agency announced a $20m
      (£12m) project
      to rebuild infrastructure including roads, electricity supply lines
      and sewers
      in the occupied territories.

      The agency was reporting good progress. But its workers were dismayed
      when they
      turned up to finish the wells and found that their work had been
      destroyed. A
      source at the American embassy said that when USAid complained, the
      Israelis
      told them that they demolished the wells because Palestinian
      militants had been
      hiding in them.

      That has been a regular claim from the Israeli military to justify
      demolishing
      houses in Gaza - but in recent weeks whole streets have been knocked
      down.
      Israel has also been accused of trying to move refugee camps away
      from the
      border with Egypt.

      Spokesmen at the American embassy were careful not to criticise the
      Israeli
      army. But according to reports in the Israeli press yesterday, they
      were less
      diplomatic behind the scenes. The newspaper Ma'ariv reported that the
      US had
      threatened to stop all reconstruction work unless the Israeli army
      promised not
      to demolish anything built by the Americans.

      Paul Patin, a spokesman for the embassy, denied that. He said: "We
      don't have
      any plans to leave." But the Israeli authorities are reportedly
      dismayed at the
      incident. Ma'ariv quoted unnamed political sources as calling it
      a "failure".
      Someone identified as a "high-ranking political official" said: "The
      Palestinian
      population is not Israel's enemy."

      Although Gaza is on the coast, the overpopulated strip suffers severe
      shortages
      of clean water, and many drink salt water. Wells are of vital
      importance. The
      Israeli army's blunder came after the US State Department said that
      it would ask
      Congress to approve $2.2bn of military aid for Israel in 2005, $60m
      more than
      the allocation for 2004.

      The increase is part of an agreement made in the 1990s to reduce
      economic
      assistance to Israel by $120m a year and simultaneously increase
      military aid by
      $60m a year.

      But the US has since agreed an extra $9bn of loan guarantees over
      three years to
      bail out the Israeli economy, in serious trouble after three years of
      the
      intifada.

      The costly military response, led by the Prime Minister, Ariel
      Sharon, has
      severely damaged tourism and investment in Israel.



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