Gaza: new air-strikes as power cuts loom

A 69-year-old Palestinian man was killed and three others injured in an attack by the Israeli Air Force on tunnels and a weapons depot in the Gaza Strip on Feb. 12. The Israeli military released a statement saying its aircraft had struck four targets, including “a terror tunnel and a weapon manufacturing facility” near Gaza City. The strikes came in response to a short-range rocket that was launched from Gaza the previous day, wounding an Israeli woman, the statement said. No faction took credit for the rocket attack. Hamas, Gaza’s ruling Islamist movement, has tried to rein in attacks on Israel as it seeks political accommodation with the secular Fatah movement that controls the Palestinian Authority. (Ha’aretz, Feb. 12)

Gaza power authority official Ahmad Abu al-Amaren meanwhile warned that the Strip will soon have only six hours of electricity per day if more fuel is not delivered. He said a small delivery on Feb. 13 staved off a wide-scale blackout, but the Gaza administration will soon be forced to introduce a highly restricted schedule, with cuts for 16 to 18 hours each day. A solution to the electricity crisis depends on Egypt allowing the necessary fuel to pass into the coastal strip, he said. The Palestinian Authority took over responsibility from the European Union for delivering diesel to the Gaza Energy Authority in late 2009. The directors of Gaza’s only power plant said that the Palestinian Authority’s delay in payments for fuel contributed to the crisis. With Egypt beset by continuing unrest, agreement has yet to be reached on stable fuel deliveries to Gaza. Abu Al-Amaren pledged that despite the escalating crisis, the Strip’s sole plant “will operate until the last available drop of fuel.” (Ma’an News Agency, Jan. 13)

See our last posts on Palestine and the Gaza Strip.

  1. Deadly airstrike on Gaza draws Hamas retaliation
    An Israeli air strike June 19 killed two Palestinians near the Gaza Strip border, drawing the first Hamas cross-border rocket barrages in over a year. Gaza medical officials said the two men killed were civilians. The Israeli military said aircraft “targeted a terrorist squad identified handling an explosive device” in the central Gaza Strip near Israel’s border fence. Hamas, which controls the enclave, said its Izz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades fired rockets into Israel in response. The fire intensified throughout the day, with some 14 launches by mid-afternoon. No casualties were reported. Although other armed groups have fired rockets across the border in previous surges of violence, Hamas had held its fire under unofficial truces with Israel. (AlJazeera, June 19)

  2. Gaza airstrikes kill one
    A Palestinian man was killed, and ten others wounded June 23 as Israel continued airstrikes on the Gaza Strip. A Gaza Health Ministry spokesman said an airstrike on a motorcycle west of Gaza City killed one person, and ten others were brought to Shifa hospital with injuries. The airstrikes began after militant groups in Gaza—although not Hamas—fired rockets into Israel despite reports that an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire had gone into effect the morning of the 22nd. IDF sources said that most of the rocket fire was carried out by the Popular Resistance Committees and other small factions. Israeli gunboats also shelled a beach in northern Gaza. (JP, Maan, June 23; Maan, June 22)

  3. Campaign to lift ban on Gaza produce
    The Israeli human rights group Gisha is launching a campaign to overturn a ban on the sale of strawberries from Gaza in the West Bank during the coming winter season. For the past five years, there has been a sweeping prohibition on marketing of goods from Gaza in Israel and the West Bank, even though the transfer of goods through Israel and the West Bank to Europe and other destinations abroad is permitted. The strawberry season begins in winter, but farmers in Gaza will need advance notice that they will be allowed to sell their produce to allow them to plant sufficient quantities in time.

    For the past two years, the Israeli government has emphasized the importance of economic recovery in Gaza is for Israel’s security. The Ministry of Agriculture has said it does not object to the sale of strawberries from Gaza in the West Bank. And yet the ban remains in place.

    Before the imposition of the closure on Gaza in June 2007, 85% of the goods sold outside the Strip were marketed in the West Bank and Israel. Because access to these markets is banned, commerce out of Gaza has all but ground to a halt and months can go by without a single truck leaving the Strip. The restrictions play a major role in the fact that the economy in Gaza is essentially paralyzed, with an unemployment rate of 31.5%, and some 70% of the population receiving humanitarian aid.