GAZA CITY — Israel approved on Thursday, October 25, electricity and fuel cuts against the besieged Gaza Strip, while its war machine killed more Palestinians.
"Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved recommendations from defense officials for periodic cuts in electricity and limitations on fuel supplies," the Defense Ministry said in a statement cited by Agence France Presse (AFP).
In the first phase, Israel will disrupt electricity to various areas in the Strip and will also limit the supply of fuel to Gaza.
The new sanctions include additional limitations on the delivery of various types of fuel, services and merchandise.
"There is no need for additional approval from the cabinet and the measures will be implemented gradually as warranted," said an Israeli spokesman.
Israel decided a few days ago to cut electricity to the Beit Hanun area in the northern Strip in response to rocket fire, according to Haaretz daily.
Gaza uses approximately 200 megawatts of electricity, out of which 120 are provided directly from Israeli power lines.
The impoverished territory and its power station are also dependent on Israeli fuel supplies, partially funded by the European Union.
Israel declared Gaza a "hostile entity" on September 19, paving the way for sanctions such as cutting vital water and fuel supplies.
Gaza is already reeling from a Western freeze on direct aid since Hamas won elections in 2006 and over 80 percent of its 1.5 million population depends on foreign aid.
Human rights groups immediately blasted the new Israeli sanctions as a collective punishment.
"The Carter Centre sees this proposal as the collective punishment of 1.4 million people for the actions of a few," said the center, founded by former US president Jimmy Carter.
The United Nations has warned Israel against inflicting collective punishment by denying Gazans vital supplies and services.
"Playing with electricity is playing with fire," warned the Israeli human rights group Gisha.
"Even a brief interruption in electricity threatens the safety and well-being of Gaza residents."
Hamas also denounced the Israeli move.
"This is part of the collective punishment meted out by the occupation government against Palestinian residents in Gaza," said spokesman Taher Nunu.
"This is a new crime against the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in Gaza.
"Israeli aggression is the reason for the rocket attacks. Israeli assassinations have not stopped in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, causing Palestinian revenge for which Israel is responsible."
The new sanctions came as four Palestinians breathed their last from Israeli gunshots.
Witnesses said Mahmoud Al-Abed and Mohamed Al-Kurd from Saraya Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, were killed in clashes with Israeli occupation forces in northern Gaza.
The deaths followed the killing of two Hamas members.
Security sources said Ayman Fussefes and Ahmad Tabash, members of Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, were shot dead by Israeli special forces in the Abbassan village in Khan Yunis.
Earlier, two Palestinian boys were killed by an Israeli shell in northern Gaza.
Abdou Ascar, 15, and Mohamed Kalub, 14, were torn apart by an Israeli shell fired at eastern Jabaliya, said medical sources.
Thursday’s deaths bring to 5,905 the number of people killed since the 2000 outbreak of Al-Aqsa intifadah, the vast most of them Palestinians, according to an AFP tally
-IslamOnline.net and News Agencies (Additional Reporting By Mohamed el-Sawwaf)