Gaza plan: Fill tankers, cut supplies

Army allowed 7,000 Palestinians to travel to Israeli hospitals from the Strip last year.

Gaza power station 224.8 (photo credit: AP)
Gaza power station 224.8
(photo credit: AP)
The defense establishment's decision to rescind a decision to limit the supply of industrial diesel to the Gaza Strip is part of a plan to end ties between Israel and the Hamas-run territory, defense officials said Sunday. The sanctions were imposed last month as part of Israeli efforts to pressure Hamas and Islamic Jihad into stopping the daily Kassam rocket attacks against Sderot and other communities in the Western Negev. The move came under harsh international criticism and a number of petitions were filed in the High Court of Justice against it. In a brief submitted to the court on Thursday, the state wrote that Defense Minister Ehud Barak had decided to suspend the sanctions and even increase the amount of industrial diesel Israel supplies to Gaza from 1.75 million liters a week to 2.2 million. The fuel is used exclusively by Gaza's sole power plant to produce electricity. While the state's brief to the court appeared to be a reversal of Barak's earlier decision to impose the sanction, defense officials told The Jerusalem Post Sunday that after the Palestinian fuel storage containers were full, Israel would then complete its disengagement from the Gaza Strip and cut off all ties, including the supply of fuel and electricity. "The idea is to give them an increased amount of fuel so they can quickly fill up their tankers and when they are full we will then cut the supplies," a defense official said. "The ultimate idea is to completely disengage from Gaza and to cut off all ties with the Strip." Meanwhile Sunday, the Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration released its annual statistics for 2007 showing that despite Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip in June and the continued Kassam rocket attacks throughout the year, more than 7,000 Palestinians were allowed to travel to hospitals in Israel and the West Bank - an increase of 50 percent in comparison to 2006. Close to 8,000 more were allowed to accompany them. Defense officials said great risks were often taken when allowing Palestinians to exit Gaza and travel to Israel for medical care. Earlier this month, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) released a report detailing a number of cases when Palestinian terrorists tried to take advantage of the "medical route" and use it to enter Israel to perpetrate terror attacks. "Terrorists take advantage of the medical route," OC Gaza Coordination and Liaison Administration Col. Nir Press said, adding: "Despite this, the vast numbers of those treated outside the Gaza Strip demonstrates our efforts to find the delicate balance between security needs and humanitarian requirements."