locusts bring palestinians, israelis together

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    JERUSALEM, Nov 22: Swarms of locusts threatening to devastate the Palestinian West Bank region of Jericho and already destroying grass and trees at luxury hotels in southern Israel have brought the two sides into unusual cooperation against a common flying foe.

    Palestinian and Israeli officials confirmed on Monday that they would work together to battle the creatures which arrived in countless numbers on Sunday in Israel's resort of Eilat on the Red Sea. The voracious insects had swept through and destroyed the greenery of hotels there in the first such massive locust invasion of Israel since the 1950s.

    "Last week we received a first call from the Palestinian agriculture ministry to cooperate against the locust invasion, an appeal which became more pressing yesterday in view of the progress of the locusts to the north which (now) are particularly threatening Jericho," Lieutenant Talya Somach, of Israel's bureau of cooperation with civilians, said.

    The two sides' ministries had set up direct lines of contact and Israel had promised to provide the material to destroy the invaders. Palestinian agriculture minister Ibrahim Abu al-Naji said that the Palestinian Authorities had contacted "neighbouring countries, including Israel" to face up to the invading hordes.

    He said that if the situation got worse the Palestinians would not object to Israeli planes flying over their territory to attack the swarms with insecticides.

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