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Israel Pays UN for Gaza War Damage

Israel has paid $10.5m to the United Nations for property damage and injuries the world body suffered during Israel's war on Gaza a year ago, officials have said.

A Palestinian family walks past the rubble of a mosque that was destroyed during Israel's offensive on the Gaza Strip, in al-Zaitoun neighbourhood of Gaza City in 2009. Israel has paid the United Nations some 10.5 million dollars in damages following its assault on the Gaza Strip last year, UN officials said Friday. (AFP/File/Mohammed Abed) "With this payment, the United Nations has agreed that the financial issues relating to those incidents ... are concluded," Martin Nesirky, a UN spokesman, said on Friday.

A senior Israeli diplomat at the UN, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: "We have decided to make an ex gratia [without liability] payment to the United Nations and we have indeed done it."

A total of 53 installations used by the United Nations Relief and Works agency were damaged or destroyed during Israel's Gaza campaign including 37 schools, six health centres, and two warehouses.

Aid destroyed

The main damage to UN property came on January 15 when Israeli shells hit a UN compound, setting fire to a warehouse and destroying badly-needed food and medical aid.

UN officials say they have evidence that white phosphorous, a smokescreen agent that can cause severe burns, was used in the attack that left three people injured.

Israel said Hamas fighters had used the compound to launch attacks on its forces but later apologised for the incident.

A UN inquiry last year put the cost of damage to seven UN buildings in Gaza during the 22-day assault at $11.2m, almost all of it caused by Israeli forces.

Loss adjusters hired by the UN subsequently reduced that by $750,000, Nesirky said.

Nesirky said the UN's compensation claims related both to the property damage and to minor injuries suffered by 11 employees.

Israel's onslaught on Gaza killed more than 1,400 Palestinians and left much of the territory in ruins. A total of 13 Israelis were killed during the conflict.

 Source: Agencies
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