Barak OK's Plan To Gradually Reduce Power Supply to Gaza
Yaacov Katz - The Jerusalem Post
According to a report on Channel 2, Israel will begin to gradually reduce the volume of electricy and amount of gasoline that is currently supplied to Gaza. The report further stated that the move was not meant to "punish" the Palestinians, but was simply a method of implementing the cabinet decision from last month.
However, Channel 10 reported that Israel planned to cut electricity for an estimated 15 minutes after every Palestinian rocket is fired into Israel, leading to speculation of a direct connection between sanctions and the Kassam rocket fire.
Throughout Wednesday, Palestinians continued to fire rockets into Israeli territory, all of which landed in open areas in the western Negev and caused no damage. In response, IAF planes struck a Kassam rocket cell in northern Gaza moments after its members launched two rockets at Israel. Two of the three cell members were killed.
On Tuesday, Barak ordered Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna'i to prepare a list of sanctions to be imposed on Gaza. Following a meeting with senior defense officials, Southern Command officers and the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the deputy defense minister recommended that Israel begin cutting back the supply of gasoline and electricity to Gaza in the coming days.
"It's clear that we have to cut off ... the supply of electricity and the supply of fuel," Vilna'i told Army Radio Wednesday. "We will dramatically reduce the flow of electricity from Israel over several weeks."
Barak was also advised to shut down one of the five power lines connecting Israel and Gaza for two hours at night.
"We need to show the residents of Gaza that life does not carry on freely when Kassam rockets land in Israel," a senior defense official said. "If rockets are fired, then the Palestinians will pay a price."
Defense officials said the cuts in gasoline supply would be enough to "slightly disrupt" Palestinians' daily lives and cause them to think twice before driving their car.
During Tuesday's meeting, Vilna'i decided to allow the continued supply of diesel fuel, which is used by ambulances and sanitation vehicles.
"We do not want to cause a humanitarian crisis," a defense official said. "But we do want to send a clear message to the Palestinians that the rocket fire will not be tolerated."