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Key takeaways from AP report on US-funded projects in Gaza that were damaged or destroyed

Dec 21, 2023, 10:36 PM

This combination of satellite images provided by Maxar Technologies shows the Gaza Sports Club on Oct. 31, 2023 and on Nov. 1, after it was damaged. Less than a year before a Hamas attack out of Gaza sparked a war, one of the oldest and largest sports complexes in the Palestinian territories got a much-needed overhaul: Brand new basketball, volleyball and tennis courts, a soccer field, a running track and, for the first time, accessible bathrooms. It was a $519,000 upgrade, paid for by U.S. taxpayers. (Maxar Technologies via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Maxar Technologies via AP)

Since Israel launched its offensive in Gaza following a deadly Hamas attack on Oct. 7, tens of thousands of buildings have been destroyed. Although most major U.S.-funded infrastructure in Gaza has been spared, an AP analysis of satellite imagery has found at least five sites built or expanded with U.S. taxpayer funds appear to have been damaged. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is sending billions of dollars to bolster the Israeli military as it continues its bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

1. The U.S. shares coordinates of U.S.-funded infrastructure with Israeli officials.

According to past USAID mission directors for Gaza and the West Bank, USAID works closely with Israeli officials to ensure that U.S.-funded infrastructure is spared during conflicts. Dave Harden, who served as USAID mission director from 2013 to 2016, said he worked “extremely closely” with the Israeli officials. “I would give them the coordinates and tell them not to hit it,” he said.

2. Despite coordination, some U.S.-funded buildings in Gaza have been damaged in the Israel-Hamas war

The Associated Press examined Maxar satellite imagery from before and after the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7 and identified at least five sites built or expanded using taxpayer funds that appear to have been damaged. These sites include a sports complex, a school, a cultural center and two centers for children with disabilities. AP cannot determine the exact cause of the damage. The Israeli Defense Forces would not comment on damage to U.S.-supported structures or provide any information about its targets. Israel blames Hamas for the damage, saying the group uses Gaza’s civilian infrastructure as cover to stage attacks, hide its fighters and weapons and build tunnels underground. It also says that hundreds of misfired Hamas rockets aimed at Israel have instead landed inside Gaza. The AP was unable to reach Palestinian officials in Gaza due to repeated communications disruptions.

3. The U.S. has spent more than $7 billion in development and humanitarian aid in the West Bank and Gaza since establishing a U.S. Agency for International Development Mission 30 years ago.

American taxpayers have funded clean drinking water, new roads, hospital and school improvements and much more since establishing a USAID mission in the Palestinian territories in 1994. Every project the U.S. builds in Gaza and the West Bank is approved by Israeli officials. Over the years, U.S.-supported projects are destroyed during conflicts and then rebuilt with U.S. funds, an effort that is considered both humanitarian and a political message.

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Key takeaways from AP report on US-funded projects in Gaza that were damaged or destroyed