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Home >> Life
UPDATED: 10:12, February 23, 2006
Israel, PNA join hands in warding off bird flu
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Israel joined force with the Palestinians to fight a possible outbreak of bird flu and foot-and- mouth disease, the Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.

Samples taken from suspected livestock and dead wild fowl have been delivered by Palestinian officials from Gaza for tests in Israel, said the report.

The outbreaks of either disease will not only jeopardize Palestinians in Gaza but also the public in Israel, said Uri Madar, who is the head of the agricultural division at the Erez District Coordinating Office.

"It is in Israel's interest to ensure that agricultural standards in Gaza are maintained," Madar told the Post as he prepared to transport the samples to Israel's veterinary service laboratories in Beit Dagan.

If these diseases are confirmed, the situation could have fierce repercussions in terms of finance and health, Israeli security officials were quoted as saying.

On Wednesday morning, Madar was notified that 12 to 13 dead wild fowl were found in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, not far from borders between Gaza and Egypt, where bird flu cases were reported for the first time on Feb. 17.

Earlier this week, Palestinian officials spotted possible signs of foot-and-mouth disease in a number of cows in Gaza.

Israeli officials insisted that samples be transferred to Israel for further testing, Madar said.

Despite the security situation, cooperation and coordination with the Palestinians on such issues has been good, said Madar.

Security officials warned that once the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) establishes a new Palestinian government, the possibility of maintaining such close coordination and contacts will be in doubt.

"If Israel's policy is to refrain from speaking with Hamas, then once the new Palestinian government is installed and new ministers take their posts, all contacts will be stopped," a security official said.

Hamas, which won a landslide victory in January's Palestinian legislative elections, is about to form a new cabinet within weeks.

Israel has said that it would not deal with a Hamas-led government unless the group recognizes Israel's right to exist, renounces violence and respects agreements signed in the past.

Source: Xinhua

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