Thursday, October 25, 2007

Cabinet Announces Sanctions Against Gaza

Defense Minister Ehud Barak is set to approve, on Thursday afternoon, sanctions upon Palestinian Authority-controlled Gaza. The measures are in response to the renewed Kassam rocket fire from Gaza on Sderot and environs.

Six Kassams were fired Wednesday night at the western Negev, sending two people into shock. These followed more than 20 fired on Tuesday, including one that hit a home, and preced another two rockets fired Thursday morning.

A committee headed by Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai has recommended that electricity supplied by Israel be cut off to northern Gaza during certain evening and nighttime hours. The city of Beit Hanoun in northern Gaza, and environs, comprise the area from which most of the Kassam rockets are fired. The committee also recommends cutting down Israel's supply of fuel and goods to Gaza.

"We have no alternative other than to employ these measures," Deputy Minister Vilnai explained Thursday on Army Radio. "The situation cannot continue in which we supply the Palestinians with all their needs as usual while they fire at us. Gaza is a hostile entity, and this is a gradual disengagement."

Some 62.5 percent of Gaza's electricity, and all of Gaza's fuel, including diesel, gasoline and natural gas, comes from Israel. Another 28.6 percent of Gaza's electricity comes from Gaza's power plant, which depends on Israeli fuel. The remainder of the electricity comes from Egypt. The numbers were supplied by Stuart Shepherd of the UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Defense Minister Barak is also considering closing the Israel-Gaza crossings for an unlimited time.

Israel already disengaged from Gaza once before, when it destroyed 21 of its own Jewish communities there, expelled their residents, and razed their homes in an effort to increase security for the Jewish State. It was said at the time that Israel had no need to be at all involved with Gaza and the Arab population there. However, ties between Israel and Gaza have continued even without an Israeli presence in Gaza, prompting the nearly 9,000 still temporarily-housed ex-Gazan Jews to wonder what purpose was served by the destruction of much of their lives.

Alon Davidi, of the Sderot Task Force, said after Wednesday night's Kassam attacks, "It is inconceivable that the residents of Sderot should be abandoned by their democratic government, and are deprived of their basic right to live with security and without fear. We call upon the Prime Minister to wake up from his dreams of concessions, and order the IDF to set out on a broad ground campaign to stop the terrorism in Hamastan."

Former IDF Chief of Staff Moshe Yaalon maintains, in a paper he prepared for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, that one of the reasons Israel is not invading Gaza is its fear that the PA will hold off on supplying Israel with gas from an off shore gas field discovered by Israel in 2000. The field, with an estimated worth of $4 billion of gas, was given as a gift by then-Prime Minister Barak to the PA, which is developing it together with British Gas. Ex-Prime Minister Sharon opposed the deal, fearing that revenues would be used to fund terrorism, but Prime Minister Olmert apparently plans to go ahead with it

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