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Gaza Warns of Humanitarian Crisis

January 23, 2008 11:08 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Palestinians and aid workers decry the Israeli blockade at Gaza’s borders. Israeli officials claim Hamas exaggerates the hardship and turned the power off itself.

30-Second Summary

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Most of Gaza City was plunged into darkness Sunday night after the strip’s only power plant shut down, allegedly because it ran out of fuel.

Fuel shipments stopped after Israel sealed all border crossings to the coastal strip after a surge in rocket attacks from Gazan militants. 

Palestinian reports said that hospitals stopped functioning and that the Strip’s 1.4 million people were deprived of heating and basic necessities.

Israeli authorities responded by saying that while fuel stopped coming through, Israeli supplies of electricity to Gaza continued.

According to the BBC, Israel supplies over 60 percent of Gaza’s electricity. The Gaza plant provides only about a quarter of the Strip’s electricity.

Some observers suggested that shutting down the Gaza plant alone could not have produced the extensive blackouts.

Israeli officials called the blackouts “a Hamas deception.” Though an op-ed in the Jerusalem Post didn’t directly accuse Hamas of shutting off Gaza’s power, it does say that the blackouts have strengthened the militant group and weakened Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, compromising the future of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Others accused Israel of trying to manipulate public opinion, U.S. public opinion in particular. Juan Cole of the Global Americana Institute wrote in his blog “Informed Comment” that Israel chose to issue a collective punishment on Gaza exactly when the world is looking in the other direction: at the U.S. elections.

Headline: ‘Propaganda Battle over Gaza Plight’

Reactions: Aid agencies; Egypt; Israel

Background: A timeline of the Hamas-Israeli conflict

January 15
January 18
January 20
January 22

Opinion & Analysis: Who profited from the blackouts?

A “PR victory” for Hamas
Israel has the right to protect itself
Israel is manipulating public opinion
Israel strengthens Palestinian solidarity

Reference: The Gaza Strip

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