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Israel: Power cutoffs not a punishment

Oct. 27, 2007 at 2:17 PM

JERUSALEM, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said Saturday that recent cuts of electrical power to the Gaza Strip were not a form of collective punishment.

Vilnai said the reason his country had begun periodically cutting the Gaza Strip off from electricity was not as a form of punishment, but rather as an effort by Israeli officials to limit their responsibility to the area, Haaretz reported.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was previously promised by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that any electrical cutoffs would not include hospitals in the Gaza Strip, the report said.

That promise came following Olmert's declaration his country would not hesitate to limit electrical power to the troubled region if rocket attacks on Israel continued.

Meanwhile the head of Gaza's Hamas government, Ismail Haniyeh, criticized the two leaders for engaging in meetings that he said served as distractions from Israel's aggressive stance against Gaza.

"These meetings have become a cover for the continued aggression against the Palestinian people," Haniyeh told Haaretz Friday.

"We warn against the dangers of falling into the traps of American-Israeli policies," he added.

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