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Israel stops fuel shipments to Gaza

JERUSALEM — Israel said Thursday it had suspended fuel shipments to the Gaza Strip a day after Palestinian gunmen infiltrated Israel and shot dead two civilian workers at a distribution center in Nahal Oz that supplies all the fuel for Gaza's 1.5-million residents.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said the embargo could last some days.

Gaza is already suffering from a severe economic blockade that has reduced the flow of goods into the territory to only humanitarian essentials.

Human rights advocates said Thursday that even a relatively short stoppage of the fuel shipments could have drastic consequences in a place where reserves are nonexistent and basic supplies of industrial fuel, diesel and gasoline are running low.

"Israel has closed Gaza's borders and doesn't allow fuel to enter, except through Nahal Oz," said Sari Bashi, executive director of the Israel-based human rights group Gisha. "So to close Nahal Oz is to choke the life out of Gaza."

Bashi said that Gaza's lone power plant has enough fuel to last until Sunday but that it may have to cut its production either partly or entirely thereafter. The plant supplies less than a third of Gaza's electricity; power lines from Israel supply the rest.

At the moment, she said, Gaza has rolling blackouts of about five hours a day.

Mahmoud al-Khozndar, spokesman for an association of Gazan gas store owners, said that almost no gas is available to power cars and that a fuel blockade could lead to a total collapse of the strip's already fragile transportation network.

"More and more," he said, "it's a disastrous situation here in Gaza."

Israel stops fuel shipments to Gaza 04/10/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 10:31am]
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