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Photo: Effie Shrir
Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Photo: Effie Shrir
Gaza power station
Photo: AFP
'Gaza power cuts could lead to escalation'
Senior security source expresses fear that defense minister's decision to limit power supplies to Strip will boost terror organization's motivation to fire rockets. 'In the long run they will understand that Israel is not a partner,' another official says
Israel is entering a complex situation which could yield a large number of discouraging scenarios, including an escalation in the near future, security sources told Ynet on Thursday evening on the backdrop of Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to reduce power supplies to the Gaza Strip.

 

Defense establishment officials explained that in light of the increase in the number of Qassam rockets fired from the Gaza Strip by the Hamas organization and other terror cells, Israel must weigh its options – launching a wide-scale operation or significantly reducing the Hamas-led government's dependency on Israel.

 

"Choosing the second option raises difficult questions regarding the implementation," the sources admitted.

 

In terms of the transfer of goods into the Strip, the number of trucks arriving at the crossings will be limited in the near future. Israel will provide entry passes to only 70 trucks a day, as opposed to 120 today, and they will transfer mostly food and medications. All things considered unessential will remain outside.

 

How will it work?

The defense minister's decision does not only imply a reduction in the in the supplies transferred into Gaza, but also initiated electrical blackouts. The process will be implemented by the National Infrastructures Ministry following a request by the Defense Ministry.

 

"The electrical blackouts will usually be limited in time and in area, and are aimed at making it clear to the Palestinians that they should take care of themselves rather than depend on Israel," a defense establishment source explained.

 

About 70% of the power supplies to the Strip come from Israel, 25% are manufactured by the Palestinians, and the rest, about 5%, come from Egypt. Israel will not reduce the supplies of diesel fuel into Gaza, as it used by essential institutions such as hospitals.

 

The Gaza power stations will continue to receive fuel oil, but the supply of petrol used for domestic purposes will be limited.

 

"The Palestinian civilian will have to decide whether to drive his car four times a week or only three. This does not constitute humanitarian damage," a security source said.

 

In spite of various reports and implications, defense establishment officials insist that there is no "punishment scale" according to which power supplies will be cut in accordance to the number of rockets fired.

 

They admit, however, the Israeli move may increase the pressure on terror organizations to fire a larger number of Qassams and even use rockets with longer ranges.

 

"This could lead to a situation in which Israel will take harsher steps and cause a 'ping-pong' game between us and the Palestinians. In the long run, however, they will understand that Israel is not a partner and that in order to live their lives normally they must deal with what is happening there inside and not with firing rockets," a security source said.

 

"This disengagement bears a price for the Palestinians, an economic and social price. They will eventually have to self-examine themselves."

 

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