Israel decided to allow some fuel, medicine and food into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip on Tuesday, at least temporarily easing a blockade that has plunged much of the territory into darkness and sparked international criticism. Monday's decision by Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak means the European Union will be allowed to deliver a week's supply of industrial fuel to Gaza Strip's main power plant, which was closed on Sunday. The EU, which funds fuel shipments to the plant, confirmed the delivery would take place on Tuesday.
The EU and international agencies called the Israeli measures "collective punishment," which is banned under the Geneva Conventions.
According to Reuters, Israeli government officials said future shipments would hinge on regular assessments of Gaza Strip's humanitarian needs and on the number of rockets fired by Palestinian gunners into southern Israel. "We are not committing on how often we will do this," Israel's Defence Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror said.
On his part, Barak said Israel would not ease pressure on armed groups. "We will do everything to make them understand we will do anything to restore quiet," he said.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said it welcomed any signs that Israel was easing its cordon. "But this drip, drip, drip, here-today-gone-tomorrow... approach to humanitarian assistance makes it very difficult for UNRWA to sustain in the long term a humanitarian program to nearly a million people," spokesman Christopher Gunness said.
Meanwhile, Hamas slammed Arab states, saying that neither Egypt nor any other Arab country are excused for not breaking the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. "The Israeli occupation is intensifying its threats and siege on the Gaza Strip, to the point that the Strip became threatened with a humanitarian catastrophe especially after fuel supplies almost ran out and Gaza power station is about to stop operating, and Israel is threatening to target infrastructure and to assassinate political leaders, believing that the will of the Palestinian people will break and collapse before its terror and crimes and that they will raise the banner of surrender," Hamas said in an announcement.