Power outages expected in Gaza Strip

Jan. 20, 2008 at 10:02 AM

SDEROT, Israel, Jan. 20 (UPI) -- Palestinians say parts of the Gaza Strip will go dark Sunday without diesel fuel being withheld by Israel in response to rocket attacks.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak imposed a blockade on the shipment of fuel oil to the Gaza Strip Thursday following heavy Qassam rocket attacks from Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants.

Officials with a United Nations relief agency criticized the move citing concerns on the effect the power outage will have on hospitals and other social services, the Jerusalem Post said Sunday.

"The logic of this defies basic humanitarian standards," said U.N. Relief and Works Agency spokesman Christopher Gunnes.

Barak said only extreme humanitarian issues would ease the blockade, though Gazans rely on diesel fuel for only about one-third of their electrical power supply.

Israeli Public Security Minister Avi Dichter said Sunday the town of Sderot will "collapse" under the rocket barrage if the military fails to quell increased militant activity out of Gaza.

Two Qassam rockets struck an open field near Sderot Sunday, Haaretz said.

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