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Libya’s Price Tag for Freeing Israeli: $50 Million for Gaza

Libya announced a $50 million project for Gaza the day after it freed an Israeli held for five months. Libya insists the timing is a coincidence.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 8/11/2010, 11:21 AM / Last Update: 8/11/2010, 11:40 AM

Libya announced it will fund a $50 million project for Gaza, the day after it agreed to a request by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to free Israeli Rafael Hadad, who had been held there for five months.

Hadad, who was in Libya to photograph Jewish sites in the country, was detained by authorities on suspicion of spying. 

Using his connections with influential Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff to cajole Libya to release Hadad, Lieberman said he agreed to “respect” Libyan demands on Palestinian Authority issues.

The new Libyan project in Gaza, involving the construction of 1,250 homes, represents a rare agreement between Israel and Libya, which nurtures a deep hatred of Israel. It was originally reported that this was the price Israel agreed to pay for the release of Tunisian-born Hadad. However, the regime of eccentric dictator Muammar Qaddafi insisted there was no connection between Hadad's release and the announcement of the project, financed by the Qaddafi Foundation.

Foundation Executive Director Youssef Sawani told Reuters that Israel’s consent to the $50 million project in Gaza was related to the rerouting of a Libyan aid ship headed for Hamas-controlled Gaza. Israel intercepted the boat as part of its determination to maintain the sea embargo aimed at preventing Hamas from importing weapons and terrorists. The Libyan boat was diverted to Egypt.