Israel pays UN 10.5 million dollars for damage in Gaza assault

12:25, January 23, 2010      

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Israel has paid the United Nations 10.5 million U.S. dollars for damage the world organization suffered in Gaza during Israel's three and a half week assault in 2008-2009 of the Palestinian enclave, the United Nations announced on Friday.

Although Israel acknowledged no responsibility for damage, it was the first time such a payment was made to anyone for the attack on the Palestinians just over a year ago. A number of UN sites were damaged during the attack, including two schools and a World Food Program warehouse. No UN personnel were killed although a few were injured or wounded.

"An arrangement has now been finalized between the United Nations and Israel," said Martin Nesirky, spokesman for UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

He explained that in July last year, the United Nations sent to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs a claim for reimbursement for the losses the United Nations had sustained in a number of incidents that occurred during the Gaza conflict of Dec. 27 2008 to Jan. 19 2009.

Since that time, discussions have taken place between the United Nations and Israel further to that claim. Earlier this month Nesirky said Ban and Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak conferred by telephone on the discussions as the talks were nearing conclusion.

"With this payment the United Nations has agreed the financial issues relating to those incidents referred to in the terms of reference of the Board of Inquiry," Nesirky said, adding a note of gratitude for "the cooperative approach that the government of Israel has shown in the course of the discussions."

However, the spokesman pointed out: "The money itself will not repair the buildings and facilities damaged. For that the unhindered and expedited actual passage of cement and other building materials is urgently required."

The United Nations has repeatedly called for the lifting of Gaza crossing closures.

"As with reconstruction generally in war damaged Gaza, we call again here for the lifting of the closure so that the people of Gaza can rebuild their homes and their economy," Nesirky said. The closures had stifled rebuilding and commerce in Gaza.

Responding to questions by reporters, the spokesman said those injured were receiving payments taken from the 10.5 million dollars.

Nesirky explained while the Board of Inquiry estimated damage at 11.2 million dollars, further estimates by professionals put the damage figure at 10.5 million dollars, the amount agreed on.

Source: Xinhua
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