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09-05-2005 10:12 AM

Hurricane relief may cut into U.S. pullout aid for Israel
 
Last update - 11:58 04/09/2005


Hurricane relief may cut into U.S. pullout aid for Israel

By Yoav Stern, Haaretz Correspondent, Haaretz Service, and Agencies

The scope of the disaster relief that the U.S. government is preparing for the areas hit by the hurricane is likely to reduce the amount of American aid to be transferred to Israel, Army Radio reported Sunday, citing unnamed White House officials.

The U.S. aid was slated to offset the cost of implementing the disengagement plan.

After returning from his tour of the New Orleans region Friday, U.S. President George W. Bush immediately signed a $10.5 billion disaster aid package passed by Congress - an amount he repeatedly called "just the beginning" of federal expenditures for storm relief.




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The high cost of rebuilding the storm-ravaged areas raise doubts as to the administration's willingness to fund the Israel Defense Forces' redeployment to areas outside of the Gaza Strip, Army Radio reported.

The amount of U.S. aid to Israel in matters related to the disengagement plan will be discussed by Congress in the coming months, according to Army Radio.

Two Israelis reported missing
An Israeli citizen who has been working as a truck driver in New Orleans has not been heard from since Hurricane Katrina struck last week, ravaging the city and rendering it unrecognizable. Another Israeli called his wife Friday after telling her he was headed toward Mississippi, but did not indicate his location. The Israeli Consulate in Houston is trying to locate both men.

The Jewish community in the United States has responded to the hurricane with massive outpourings of support, coordinated through several major organizations and religious movements. Special efforts are also underway to locate and aid any Jewish hurricane refugees.

Both the number of people left in the city and the death toll remained unknown, because people are still showing up at evacuation sites and dead bodies were still being counted, according to Mike Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. However, estimates points to as many as 10,000 dead.

Bush said Saturday that an additional 7,200 federal troops would be sent to the disaster site to aid in relief efforts. The move comes amid angry complaints from local residents and officials that the federal government had bungled the relief effort and let people die in the streets for lack of food, water or medicine as the city was overtaken by looting, rape and arson.


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