Thursday, February 23, 2006

Israel Destroyed a US Funded Public Park

The Israeli Army, using a bulldozer, destroyed a US-funded public park, including a children’s playground and swimming pool, in a West Bank village yesterday, witnesses and officials said. The bulldozer, protected by a force of Israeli soldiers, demolished the park in Azzun, close to the northern town of Qalqiliya, on the grounds that it had been built without permission of the Israeli authorities in the occupied territory.

Construction work on the park had begun in November last year and was almost completed, the mayor of Azzun, Ihssan Abdellatif, told AFP. He said that the project, which cost around $120,000, had been financed by the US Agency for International Development.

“I can confirm that the park that was destroyed today was funded by USAID,” a spokeswoman for the agency, Anna-Maija Litvak, told AFP. The spokeswoman added that USAID (US Taxpayers) had contributed around $80,000 toward the cost.

Meanwhile, Iran offered yesterday to help finance a Palestinian Authority run by the Hamas group, state radio reported in Tehran. Israel promptly warned the Palestinians that if they accepted Iranian money, they would be aligning themselves with an “international pariah.” The secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, announced the offer after a meeting with Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of the Hamas, in Tehran, the radio said.

“The United States proved that it would not support democracy after it cut its aid to the Palestinian government after Hamas won the elections. We will certainly help the Palestinians,” Larijani said, according to the radio.

In Jerusalem, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said: “The incoming Palestinian leadership has to decide if it wants to be part of the legitimate international community or if it wants, through its own actions, to align itself with international pariahs.”


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