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Israel cuts off fuel supplies to Gaza

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Hisham Abu Taha & Mohammed Mar’i, Arab News

Israel yesterday cut off fuel supplies to Gaza following an attack by Palestinians fighters on its fuel depot in Nahal Oz crossing on Wednesday that killed two Israelis. Though some Israelis demanded that Israel halt all supplies to Gaza, Israeli defense officials indicated that the fuel cutoff would not last past the weekend.Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zawahri said yesterday that the attack on the fuel depot was one of the many choices Hamas had. “This was the first option, and the beginning of the eruption against the blockade,” he said.Yesterday afternoon, hundreds of demonstrators began flocking to main intersections of Gaza City to protest Israel’s blockade and economic sanctions.Abu Ahmed of Islamic Jihad said the attack deliberately targeted the fuel depot on which Gazans depend. “This fuel (from Israel) is dipped in humiliation,” he said, because people wait for it for hours. “If their fuel means humiliation for us, we don’t want it.” After the deadly gunfire attack shattered the relative calm of the past month, Israel sent tanks, troops and aircraft into the Palestinian territory, killing at least eight Palestinians, including three civilians. Though Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005, it remains the main source of imports into the impoverished territory.Fuel and cargo enter and exit Gaza through two crossing points with Israel, and a third is the main passage for people. The only direct crossing between Gaza and Egypt is usually closed, as Egypt cooperates with the boycott of the Hamas regime imposed by Israel and the West.200 Gazans ProtestHamas is threatening to crash through the Egyptian border wall again after a January breakout allowed thousands of Gaza to stream into Egypt for nearly two weeks. About 200 Gazans demonstrated at the Egyptian border yesterday.Human rights groups maintain that Israel is still technically the occupier of Gaza, despite its pullout, holding Israel responsible for the hardships faced by the Palestinians there. Israel has pledged to prevent a humanitarian crisis from developing while following a policy of gradually trying to disengage from the seaside territory.The difficulties for Israel in cutting off fuel supplies to Gaza was evident in January when Hamas invited TV networks to broadcast live as they shut down Gaza City’s only electric power plant, plunging the city into darkness.Though Israel insisted it was supplying enough fuel to produce electricity in Gaza and charged that Hamas was staging an artificial crisis, pressure on Israel forced resumption of regular fuel deliveries within days.The infiltration also served as a reminder that Israel, which is conducting peace talks with the rival Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas, would not implement a deal as long as Hamas rules Gaza. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said the raid would not disrupt peace talks. The two sides hope to reach a final peace deal by the end of the year.


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