Monday, April 28, 2008

Hamas blocked fuel for Gaza hospitals: Palestinian ministry

The Palestinian health ministry in the West Bank on Sunday accused the Islamist Hamas movement of preventing the delivery of fuel oils to hospitals in the Gaza Strip.

"Members of Hamas in the Gaza Strip opened fire on Sunday on fuel trucks that were full of fuel destined for hospitals in the territory," the ministry said in a statement issued in the Palestinian political capital of Ramallah. Hamas took control of the impoverished and densely populated Gaza Strip last June after ousting Fatah forces loyal to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, whose government now holds sway in the Israeli-occupied West Bank only.

The people of Gaza are caught in the crossfire of a fuel war between Israel and Hamas, with each side blaming the other for the worsening humanitarian crisis.

Israel halted deliveries of fuel to Gaza on April 9 after Palestinian militants attacked the Nahal Oz terminal, through which all of Gaza's fuel needs are delivered.

It says it cannot deliver any more fuel as the tanks on the Palestinian side of the terminal are full because Hamas will not allow the distribution of the one million litres of petrol and diesel stored there.

Israel says it imposed its crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip in a bid to prevent Palestinian militants from firing rockets and mortar rounds into the Jewish State.

Hamas claims the siege is intended to break the back of the movement after its seizure of power in the territory.

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