Israel renews diesel supply to Gaza
Government Israel heeds international pressure, begins first shipment of gas and fuel into Strip, continues restrictions on patrols. Hamas officials satisfied, but say move insufficient. UN Security Council to hold emergency session Tuesday on humanitarian crisis in Gaza at request of Arab ambassadors
Several Israeli trucks made their way through the Nahal Oz fuel terminal Tuesday, as Israel renewed the diesel and cooking-gas supply to the Gaza power stations.
Israel cut off all gas supplies to the Gaza Strip over the weekend, prompting one of the Strip's power stations to shut down, causing mass blackouts.
Hamas officials were satisfied with the renewal of the diesel supply, but said that this was a first and insufficient step.
The diesel pumped into Gaza will also replenish the Strip's hospital generators. Israel continues to refrain from renewing petrol supplies to Gaza.
Hamas' spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that the decision to renew the gas supply was insufficient and "does not constitute an end to the siege on Gaza, as the real crisis and distress stem from the ongoing blockade."
He called on the Arab and Muslim world to continue pressuring Israel to lift the siege completely.
Workers at the Gaza power station prepared Tuesday to resume its operations following the diesel's arrival. The station's manager said that it would take several hours to resume the electricity supply to all areas across the Strip. The Gazans expressed their disappointment over Israel's failures to renew the petrol supplies.
The international community has expressed its concern over the potential humanitarian crisis brewing in the Gaza Strip. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon contacted Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday to discuss the situation.
Trucks at Nahal Oz fuel terminal (Photo: Tsafrir Abayov)
The UN Security Council is scheduled to hold an emergency session on the situation in Gaza on Tuesday, at the request of the Arab League's foreign ministers' request. The Arab League held its own emergency session on the matter Monday.
Palestinian UN observer Ryad Mansour told reporters Monday that he wanted the 15-member council to adopt a resolution or a statement demanding that Israel lift "its crippling, cruel siege on the Palestinian civilian population."
Barak said on Monday evening that Israel must increase its pressure on Gaza, in order to stop Palestinian rocket attacks on southern Israel.
"We must use more and more pressure on Gaza, what is important is the safety of the residents of the western Negev and Sderot. I care more about our quiet than their quiet," he said, speaking at the Herzliya Conference.
A senior defense official told Ynet Monday evening that the sharp decrease in rocket attacks from Gaza in the last couple of days proves that "the Palestinians got the message," conveyed by Israel through the closure on the Strip.
"We got the message across. Hamas understood the equation: A continuation of the rocket fire would lead to Israeli pressure against armed groups and civilians.
"We do not plan to cause a humanitarian catastrophe and we will transfer diesel fuel to the power plant, as well as medicines, but not fuel for cars or other commodities, but they now realize they will not get fuel or other luxuries as well."
Ali Waked and AFP contributed to this report