Israel to begin Gaza blackout

Palestinian and Israeli leaders are set to meet for a peace conference as tensions rise over Israeli decision to begin cutting off electricity to "hostile" Gaza territory.

Image Credit:Reuters/IDF
Israeli President Shimon Peres (centre) examines a weapon smuggled from Egypt, during his visit to an Israeli army base near the southern Israeli city of Eilat.
Gulf News

Occupied Jerusalem: Israel is to begin cutting off electricity to Gaza, which the government recently declared a "hostile territory".

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas criticized the decision, saying it would "sabotage" his government's efforts to extend its mandate into Gaza.

The plan has further fuelled Palestinian-Israeli tensions, although Israeli security said it is a response to ongoing rocket attacks from Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is to meet Abbas on Friday for an upcoming US-sponsored peace talk, although he had said there would be no binding peace pact.

Meanwhile, the Gaza blackout is expected to begin in the coming days, after Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved the measure on Thursday.

"The recommendation is to begin gradually cutting the electricity supply without harming humanitarian sources like hospitals," Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai said.

A spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency also said that the impact of these Israeli measures would be "extremely detrimental" to the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

"This would be just another tightening of the knot on Gaza." He said 1.2 million Gazans are already receiving emergency food rations.