Israel eases restrictions as Gaza Strip verges on fuel crisis
Israel eased some restrictions stemming from its closure of the Gaza Strip Monday, allowing in food and medicine and promising to open the tap for gas supplies as people began to crowd Gaza petrol stations, Israeli and Palestinian officials said.
Israel allowed basic food, medical and other humanitarian supplies to enter the Gaza Strip, according to Yarden Vatikay, spokesman for the coordinator of the Israeli government's activities in the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian officials confirmed the limited opening.
Israel also vowed to permit the entry of gas products late Monday as the Gaza Strip, without fuel supplies since Thursday, was on the verge of a crisis, Palestinian officials said.
On Monday, lines could be seen at petrol stations and an oil official said gas supplies were running out.
"Some gas stations have closed down and if the closure continues for the rest of the week, there will not be a drop of gas in Gaza and the bakers will stop their work," Luay Arandas, head of the Palestinian Authority's oil commission, told AFP.
Israeli had cut gas supplies to the Gaza Strip as part of a tightened closure it imposed after a Palestinian bus driver mowed down a group of Israelis at a bus stop south of Tel Aviv on Wednesday, killing eight and wounding dozens.
The 1.2 million inhabitants of the Gaza Strip consume some half a million liters of fuel daily, and are totally dependent on Israel for supplies.
The United Nations has warned that the Palestinian Authority is close to collapse because of Israel's economic blockade on the West Bank and Gaza Strip since the Palestinian uprising broke out nearly five months ago.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)