Sunday, November 4, 2007

A Humanitarian Crisis?

“If the economic sanctions that Israel has applied against the Gaza Strip in reducing fuel supplies are to be regarded as collective punishment, so should the economic sanctions that were imposed against South Africa during the apartheid years, or those against Iran today”’ writes Dan Izenberg in the Jerusalem Post.

Although there is lots of talk about cutting off supplies of electricity and fuel to Gaza and the humanitarian crisis that would result, the courts are preparing to hear this week a petitioners' request for a show-cause order to cancel the original decision.

What has actually happened thus far is that amount of gasoline allowed into Gaza had been cut from an average of 350,000-400,000 liters per week to 300,000 liters and the government is also considering a further, gradual reduction.

Diesel exports were cut from 1.4 million liters per week to 1.2 million liters. A government spokesman stated that "according to government estimates, the amount of fuel necessary to fulfill the Gaza Strip's humanitarian needs does not amount to more than 50 percent of the amount supplied today, and this is a conservative estimate which provides a significant safety margin."

The spokesman added that the export of diesel for use in Gaza's power station had been reduced from an average of 2.2 million liters to 1.75 million per week. It said that in September, the Palestinians in Gaza had added a third turbine to provide additional power. When only two turbines operate, the power station produces 55 megawatts of electricity. When the third one functions, supply goes up to 63 megawatts. The drop in diesel exports imposed by Israel last week means that the amount of electricity provided for Gaza will return to the pre-September level.

All in all, hardly a humanitarian crisis but meanwhile at least one woman was suffering from shock after three Kassam rockets were fired at Sderot late Sunday morning, Israel Radio reported. One of the rockets hit a house and another hit an electrical line, causing a complete blackout in the western Negev town.

The siren system and 106 emergency hotline were offline following the attack, leaving the town's residents without even the means to prepare in case another rocket salvo would follow later in the day.

And so the deliberate targeting of the Israeli civilians goes on.

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