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Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said Wednesday that his government would pay US$33,000 per house to compensate residents whose homes were destroyed by Israeli attacks.
Saniora said 130,000 housing units had been destroyed or damaged in more than a month of Israeli airstrikes and ground fighting with Hizbullah guerrillas, mostly in south Lebanon. He did not give a breakdown of the destroyed houses.
Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah made a similar offer two weeks ago after the cease-fire went into effect, promising to help the Lebanese rebuild and pledging money for civilians to pay rent and buy furniture.
Nasrallah did not say where the money would come from, but Iran historically has been the group's primary source of finance and weapons. The Iranians were widely believed to have opened their treasury for the rebuilding program.
The US, however, has expressed concern over the ramifications of Iran and Syria, Hizbullah's two main backers in the Middle East, stepping in to fill the financial void left by the war, since any aid they provide is likely to gain them support among the Lebanese public.
Hizbullah has already used charity work and social welfare programs financed by Iran to boost its standing in Lebanon's Shi'ite community.