Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided not to resume fuel shipments to the Gaza Strip today because of continued rocket fire, Israeli defense officials said Monday, and Gaza officials threatened to shut down the coastal territory’s only power plant.
According to the AP, Israel cut off the shipments last week and closed Gaza Strip’s border crossings in response to a wave of Palestinian rocket attacks, which came after an Israeli raid into Gaza and a fierce gunbattle between army troops and Hamas forces.
The Israeli officials said fuel shipments could resume Tuesday if no more rockets are fired.
The Israeli closure has also kept journalists from entering the coastal territory for five days, drawing a protest from Tel Aviv-based Foreign Press Association. The FPA, which represents foreign reporters in Israel and the Palestinian territories, called the Israeli move "a serious violation of press freedom."
On his part, Palestinian energy official Kanan Obeid said the fuel shortage would force the territory’s power plant to stop working later Monday. "Gaza will fall into darkness. This is Israel’s policy of collective punishment they are imposing in Gaza," he said.
Hamas officials warned the Israeli move could further undermine the shaky calm. "We warn that we have many options, and we will not stand idly by and watch our people die a slow death," said Taher Nunu, a spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza.
The head of that government, Ismail Haniyeh, called on Egyptian mediators to intervene in the crisis.