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Israeli officials call for cutting energy and food supplies to Gaza

Israeli officials yesterday renewed their calls for cutting food and electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip as a punitive measure against Hamas and the area's residents.

Israel's Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon stressed that it is important to pressure Hamas and the people of Gaza through cutting off electricity and bombing Gaza's power plant and destroying it completely.

In a radio interview yesterday Danon called on Netanyahu to cut off the electricity supplies that Israel provides to the power plant, and to prevent the flow of fuel, food and basic goods into Gaza.

Israeli columnists called for closing the Karm Abu Salem border crossing, the only commercial border crossing linking Gaza to the West Bank, so that no food, fuel or any other exports could reach the Gaza Strip.

Despite the Israeli assault on Gaza, Israel allows for a partial opening of the Karm Abu Salem crossing for the entry of goods from the West Bank into the Strip.

It also provides Gaza with 120 megawatts of electricity, which constitutes 25 per cent of the Strip's needs in normal circumstances. Egypt provides Gaza with 28 megawatts, and the Gaza power plant currently generates approximately 60 megawatts.

The Gaza Strip goes through a major electricity crisis whenever the fuel supplies, used in generating electricity from the power plant, are delayed. Fuel supplies enter Gaza through the Karm Abu Salem border crossing.

Mohanned Akl, an economic researcher specialising in Israel's economy, said that if the Israeli side of the Karm Abu Salem crossing gets closed for a week, the Gaza Strip will live in the dark due to the power cuts that will result from fuel shortage, and Gaza's markets will be emptied of food and basic goods.

"The Israeli government has not yet agreed to the calls for closing the border crossing and cutting supplies, because implementing such calls would subject Israel to major international pressure, especially from the European Union," Akl told the Anadolu new agency in a phone interview.

However he did not rule out that Israel might implement this suggestion. "Only if Israel is dealt a hard blow from the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip, and in my opinion this will not happen in the near future in light of talks about Palestinian-Turkish-Qatari meetings that seek to agree on a truce."

Israel previously imposed an economic siege on the Gaza Strip and cut food, fuel and electricity supplies, which pushed Palestinians in Gaza to dig tunnels to Egypt to smuggle goods and fuel. This led to the emergence of the so-called tunnels economy, which collapsed last year after the Egyptian army destroyed and drowned the tunnels.


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