Israel destroys US-built wells
- Israel destroys US-built wells
By Justin Huggler in Jerusalem
05 November 2003
The US has reportedly complained after the Israeli army destroyed
for civilians in Gaza by an American government aid agency.
Huge areas have been demolished by the Israelis in the Gaza Strip in
weeks, including more than 150 homes.
The wells had just been dug by the United States Agency for
Development (USAid). A few months ago the agency announced a $20m
to rebuild infrastructure including roads, electricity supply lines
in the occupied territories.
The agency was reporting good progress. But its workers were dismayed
turned up to finish the wells and found that their work had been
source at the American embassy said that when USAid complained, the
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
houses in Gaza - but in recent weeks whole streets have been knocked
Israel has also been accused of trying to move refugee camps away
border with Egypt.
Spokesmen at the American embassy were careful not to criticise the
army. But according to reports in the Israeli press yesterday, they
diplomatic behind the scenes. The newspaper Ma'ariv reported that the
threatened to stop all reconstruction work unless the Israeli army
to demolish anything built by the Americans.
Paul Patin, a spokesman for the embassy, denied that. He said: "We
any plans to leave." But the Israeli authorities are reportedly
dismayed at the
incident. Ma'ariv quoted unnamed political sources as calling it
Someone identified as a "high-ranking political official" said: "The
population is not Israel's enemy."
Although Gaza is on the coast, the overpopulated strip suffers severe
of clean water, and many drink salt water. Wells are of vital
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
the allocation for 2004.
The increase is part of an agreement made in the 1990s to reduce
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 costly military response, led by the Prime Minister, Ariel
severely damaged tourism and investment in Israel.
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