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U.S. companies trying to bring goods into Gaza claim that Israeli officials bribed them, a cable released by WikiLeaks has revealed.
[Update 11:17 A.M, Jan. 6: Israeli troops have shot dead two Palestinian men they say were trying to cross the border fence separating the northern Gaza Strip from Israel. The deaths come after a month of increased tension along the border, with frequent exchanges of fire, regular air strikes by Israelis and an increase in rocket fire from Palestinian militants.]
American companies attempting to bring goods into Gaza claim that Israeli officials solicited bribes from them, a U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks has revealed.
The cable, published by Norway's Aftenposten daily and reported by The Associated Press, says major American companies told U.S. diplomats they were forced to pay big bribes to get goods into Gaza through the Karni crossing.
Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Caterpillar, Philip Morris, Westinghouse, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola, Aramex and Dell, were among those who had complained of corruption at the crossing.
The document quoted a local Coca-Cola distributor as saying he was asked to pay more than $3,000 to get a truckload of merchandise through the Karni crossing. The executive claimed an unidentified "high-level official" at the crossing headed the corruption ring.
The alleged bribe-taking occurred a year before Israel imposed an economic blockade on Gaza, a response to Hamas taking power. At the time, border crossings were frequently closed due to Israeli-Palestinian violence.
Joerg Hartmann, a Cocal-Cola executive told U.S. diplomats that the cost of the bribes would rise after extended closures of the border, according to the leaked cable.
Meanwhile, in an apparent attempt to prevent further embarrassing WikiLeaks disclosures, the White House has instructed U.S. government departments and agencies to create"insider threat" programsto identify disgruntled or untrustworthy employees who might be tempted to leak state secrets.
The new policy urges senior civil servants to hire teams of psychiatrists and sociologists who can "detect behavioral changes" among staff who have access to classified information.
One section asks whether agencies are using lie-detector tests or trying to identify "unusually high occurrences of foreign travel, contacts, or foreign preference" by staff members.
A 13-page memo detailing the new policy was leaked to a staff member at NBC news, who posted it on their website.
[Editor's correction: This article originally ready that Israeli officials bribed American companies attempting to bring goods into Gaza. In fact, Israeli officials solicited bribes from the American companies.]