US approves $3.8 billion F-16 sale to Morocco

The Lockheed Martin-built F-16 aircraft. (Shutterstock photo)
Updated 26 March 2019
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US approves $3.8 billion F-16 sale to Morocco

WASHINGTON:  The United States on Monday approved the sale of 25 F-16 fighter aircraft to Morocco for $3.8 billion, the State Department announced.
Besides the new Block 70/72 F-16s, equipped with state of the art electronic systems and weaponry, Washington also approved the modernization of 23 F-16s already in the Moroccan air force fleet, for $983 million.
The State Department said the sale would not affect the balance of forces in the region.
It can still be blocked by the US Congress, which has 30 days to raise any objections.
More than 4,500 of the Lockheed Martin-built F-16s have been delivered since 1978.
It is gradually being replaced by the stealth F-35 fighters but more than 3,000 of F-16s are still in use in 25 countries, thanks to constant upgrades.
The Moroccan military ordered 24 F-16s in 2008. It lost one aircraft in action in 2015 during Saudi-led air operations in Yemen.


Israel says 12 Palestinian buildings destroyed in controversial demolition

Updated 9 min 16 sec ago
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Israel says 12 Palestinian buildings destroyed in controversial demolition

  • EU and UN officials disapproved of Israeli demolition of Palestinian homes
  • Palestinian Authority said the buildings are located under their control according to 1990s Oslo accords
JERUSALEM: Israel said Tuesday a total of 12 Palestinian buildings it considered illegally constructed were demolished in a controversial operation the previous day, while a UN preliminary assessment showed 24 people displaced.
The demolitions of Palestinian homes, most of which were still under construction, drew condemnation from the European Union and UN officials.
Israel says the homes south of Jerusalem were built too close to its separation barrier cutting off the occupied West Bank, posing a security risk, and the demolitions were approved by its supreme court following a lengthy process.
Palestinian leaders expressed outrage at the demolitions in the Sur Baher area, which straddles the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem.
They note that most of the buildings were located in areas meant to be under Palestinian Authority civilian control under the Oslo accords of the 1990s.
Before dawn Monday, hundreds of Israeli police and soldiers sealed off buildings in the area while residents and activists were dragged out.
A statement from Israeli defense ministry unit COGAT said “12 buildings and two building foundations were demolished,” adding that they were “built illegally.”
Israel’s supreme court “ruled that the buildings may be demolished as they constitute a security danger to the area of the security fence,” the statement said.
UN humanitarian agency OCHA said a preliminary assessment showed 24 people, including 14 children, were displaced.
More than 300 people were affected by the demolitions, it said.
Prior to the demolitions, OCHA said the buildings were to include some 70 apartments. It said those being displaced were from three households.
On June 18, a 30-day notice was given by Israeli authorities informing of their intent to demolish the buildings.
Residents fear another 100 buildings in the area in a similar situation could be at risk in the near future.
Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognized by the international community.
It began construction of the separation barrier during the bloody second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in the early 2000s and says it is necessary to protect against attacks.
Palestinians see it as an “apartheid wall” and a potent symbol of the Israeli occupation.