Israel closes again Gaza crossings
Israel reacted on Tuesday to Palestinian rocket fire by again sealing off the Gaza Strip, where officials said the territory's sole power plant was forced to shut down because of the tight blockade. The renewed closure came one day after humanitarian supplies were allowed in for the second time since Israel tightened its blockade following a November 4 surge in violence.
"After rockets were fired at the Israeli territory, Defence Minister Ehud Barak decided, following consultations with security services officials, that the crossing points will be closed on Tuesday," the defence ministry said in a statement, cited by AFP.
Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired a rocket at southern Israel on Monday, causing no casualties or damage, a military spokesman said.
On Monday, 30 truckloads of humanitarian and other basic goods were delivered to the Strip. The Israeli authorities had previously opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing for only one day since violence flared up at the beginning of the month. Additionally, Israel opened the Karni crossing conveyor belt on Monday to deliver wheat and grain as well as the Nahal Oz terminal for the delivery of fuel to the power plant.
But Israeli authorities have made it clear the crossings will open again only if Gaza groups respect a calm that went into effect on June 19 but has been rattled by the upsurge in violence.
On Tuesday, Gaza's sole power plant, which provides 25 to 30 percent of the energy used in the overpopulated territory, ground to a halt, according to Kanaan Obeid, assistant director of Gaza's energy authority. "Despite deliveries of fuel on Monday, the power plant stopped functioning because of breakdowns in the production units," he said.
According to him, the frequent shutdowns of the plant caused by fuel shortages damaged parts of the production units that cannot be replaced because of the blockade. Israel "refuses to allow in the necessary parts and the plant cannot restart without them," he said.