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Israeli pledge to isolate Gaza Strip begins to bite

Posted by Atilla89 on September 23, 2007

One of my favourite sayings has been “Mess with the best, die like the rest.” This has never been more truer then with the Israeli-Arab conflict. Hamas has been firing rockets into Israel and terrorising it’s citizens. The response from Israel has been to hold back, try for diplomacy while taking out targets of opportunity. Now Israel has finally declared Gaza as a hostile entity and can take away stuff like electricity (most of which is supplied by Israel. More from The Australian.

GAZANS last night endured longer-than-usual power cuts and the few among them with permission to enter Israel were turned back at locked crossings as Israel’s pledge to declare the Strip a “hostile entity” began to bite.

The escalating steps began after a Qassam rocket fired by Islamic Jihad from northern Gaza landed in Israeli territory early yesterday.

Israel’s security cabinet during the week unanimously approved the new classification for Gaza, which authorised officials to scale back remaining contacts with the Hamas-run territory and block all exits for 48 hours following a rocket attack.

Israel said that “except for humanitarian needs”, it would no longer supply anything to the residents of Gaza.

The move was endorsed by visiting US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but the European Union and UN urged Israel to reconsider and to avoid further cuts to already struggling essential services.

“Our first reaction is one of deep preoccupation,” said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana. “We think the Gaza people should not be deprived of basic necessities.”

I personally think that Israel is giving the Palestinians a good deal, humanitarian aid will still be getting through. But think of it this way, Israelis should not be deprived of the right to live without being constantly targeted by terrorists.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned that cutting vital services would violate international law and punish the already suffering 1.4million population.

“Such a step would be contrary to Israel’s obligations towards the civilian population under international humanitarian and human rights law,” he said.

And what about bombing cafes? Or come to that targeting school children!

Hamas, which took control of Gaza in late June after ousting the Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas from a short-lived power-sharing deal, said it had urged militant factions to stop firing Qassams.

Hamas denounced the new sanctions as a “declaration of war”.

As opposed to killing and kidnapping soldiers and targeting civilians?

Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said: “We must unite the ranks to come together in the conflict with the cruel enemy. There will be implications in the long term. This is another attempt to force us to surrender to agreements.”

Yesterday’s escalation came as reports surfaced in an Arab-Israeli newspaper of an overture made by Israel to Hamas to negotiate directly on Gaza-related issues.

The report said Norwegian mediators relayed a message to the Hamas leadership that Israel would be willing to start the first direct talks with its sworn enemy to secure the release of captured soldier Gilad Shalit. Israeli officials refused to confirm the reports.

Inside the Gaza Strip, Hamas and other militant factions were yesterday fortifying positions ahead of an anticipated large-scale Israeli assault.

The Israeli Defence Force has made increasing incursions into the Strip since June, mainly targeting rocket-launching units and sites. Youths threw rocks at Israeli battle tanks east of the southern town of Rafah yesterday and Israeli artillery thudded into barren fields in the northern town of Beit Hanoun.

A small number of students who had won acceptance to study at universities outside of Gaza, and been given approval to transfer through Israel, were turned back at the Erez crossing for a second consecutive day as the new sanctions took hold.

Hospitals and schools warned they could not continue to function if the power cuts intensified.

And strawberry farmer Bassam al-Makhoul said: “We have not planted crops this year, while our neighbours have decided to take the risk. We could not guarantee that there would be water to grow and harvest them, let alone a market to sell to.”

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