Defense sources: Gaza blackout a Hamas trick

Gaza in darkness as power plant shuts down; Abbas appeals to UN for help.

Gaza dark 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Gaza dark 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israeli officials claimed Monday that the Gaza blackout was deliberately instigated by Hamas, in a bid to present the appearance of a humanitarian crisis. According to the IDF, Israel was still providing 75 percent of Gaza's electricity, while Egypt provided an additional 5%. Israel said that it was not interested in a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and would "act quickly" to prevent it. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday night appealed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Mideast Quartet and the Arab League to exert pressure on Israel to remove the blockade from the Gaza Strip and resume fuel supplies. The appeal came after Gaza City was plunged into darkness as Hamas officials shut down the territory's only power plant. Hamas said the move was made after Israel blocked a shipment of fuel that powers the plant. The group also claimed that six patients died in Gaza hospitals because of the electricity cutoff. The claim could not be confirmed. Israel sealed all crossings into Gaza last week because of continued and increasing rocket barrages, cutting off fuel, food and medicine. Several weeks ago Israel reduced the fuel supply as a pressure tactic. In a letter to the UN, the PA president said that fuel supplies must be restored to the Strip to enable hospitals to function and to avoid a humanitarian crisis. Abbas also called on the Arab League to urgently convene a meeting on the situation in the Gaza Strip. In a statement released by his office, the PA president urged the Palestinian people to maintain patience, tolerance and unity. "We will continue to act to resolve the crisis, to end the occupation and to establish a Palestinian state," he vowed. Abbas also appealed directly to Israel to lift the blockade, said the PA president's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh. Earlier, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal urged the PA president and Arab leaders to forget their differences and help the beleaguered Gazans. The plea was a rare show of emotion for the hard-line Khaled Mashaal, who lives in exile in Damascus, Syria. "All Arab leaders, exercise real pressure to stop this Zionist crime ... take up your role and responsibility," he told Al-Jazeera satellite TV in a live interview from Syria. "We are not asking you to wage a military war against Israel... but just stand with us in pride and honor." Mashaal said he had been in contact Sunday with some Arab countries including Egypt and Saudi Arabia to see if they would pressure Israel. He also said he asked Egypt if it would provide fuel to Gaza plant. Egyptian officials were not immediately available for comment.