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Gaza in darkness as border closed

GAZA CITY (CNN) — Residents of Gaza on Monday were coping with power cuts which led to long lines at bakeries and darkened hospital wards, but Israel said reports of a humanitarian crisis were exaggerated.

Israel closed all border crossings between Israel and Gaza on Friday after days of rocket attacks on southern Israel. The closure blocks the entrance of fuel, food, and medicine, but the Israeli government promised any Palestinians who need medical treatment would be allowed to cross.

Much of Gaza was in the dark Sunday night and Monday morning. Long lines stretched around bakeries, some of which had to shut because their power supply was cut; use of generators was limited for fear the fuel used to operate them would run out.

At Shiffa Hospital in Gaza City, patients lay next to blank monitors and other equipment that was turned off. Watch people gathering with candles in the streets of Gaza

An Israel-based human rights group which advocates easing of movement for Palestinians said the closing of the borders was paralyzing vital systems in Gaza like hospitals, water and sewage pumps, and schools.

The group, Gisha, said that without fuel, Gaza’s power plant would have to shut down.

Gaza receives about 70 percent of its electricity from Israel, and the bulk of the remaining power comes from a generation plant in Gaza. That plant relies on fuel supplied by an Israeli company.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the supply of electricity had continued uninterrupted and it acknowledged a reduction in fuel supply. But it said Hamas’s claims of a humanitarian crisis in the coastal strip were greatly exaggerated.

While the fuel supply from Israel into Gaza has indeed been reduced, due to the Hamas rocket attacks, the diversion of this fuel from domestic power generators to other uses is wholly a Hamas decision — apparently taken due to media and propaganda considerations, a Foreign Ministry statement read.

Noteworthy is the fact that while the Gaza population remains in the dark, the fuel generating power to the Hamas rocket manufacturing industry continues to flow unabated.

The Foreign Ministry said there was no shortage of basic foodstuffs in Gaza.

Gisha said Gaza’s residents were already suffering an electricity deficit of 35 percent and that the number would increase to 48 percent if the Gaza power plant were to shut down.

We condemn the illegal rocket attacks on civilians in southern Israel, Gisha said in a statement. But punishing Gaza’s 1.5 million civilians does not stop the rocket fire; it only creates an impossible ‘balance’ of human suffering on both sides of the border.
Gaza in darkness as border closed – found here.

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January 21, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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