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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Gaza Power Plant Shutting Down

Gaza's main power plant began shutting down Sunday, citing Israel's closing of the Hamas controlled territory's border in response to Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel.

Deputy chairman of the Palestinian Energy Authority in the Gaza Strip, Kanaan Abeid, stated that one of the two turbines that run the power plant has been turned off and the second would go offline this evening. EU officials have verified this.

Palestinian militants have been firing rockets daily into Israel from the Gaza Strip, which Hamas Islamists seized in June after routing President Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah faction.

Israel has responded to the rockets with stepped up air strikes and ground incursions that have killed 39 Gazans, 18 of them Hamas militants, in the last week.

The BBC reports that the number of rockets and mortars that have hit Israel since that operation is over 200.

Israel has reduced the flow of petrol used in cars and diesel, but not fuel oil or cooking gas and Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel states "The ball is in their court. If they stop the rockets today, everything would go back to normal."

According to BBC, Gaza inhabitants are stocking up on basic foods, batteries and candles and the stores are running out of supplies.

The spokesman for for the UN relief agency UNWRA, Christopher Gunness, says the closure of the power station would "have a significant impact on the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of people in Gaza"

The Washington Post reports that Israel and Palestinian officials estimate that ordinarily Gazans consume 200 megawatts of electricity and only 65 megawatts come from their local power plant, the rest comes directly from Israel and Egypt.

CNS News gives us U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon's words and shows that he has called on Palestinians to halt sniper and rocket fire and for Israel to exercise maximum restraint.

According to Wikipedia, the Qassam rocket attacks fired against Israel started in 2000 and continued after Israel withdrew completely from Gaza and they list, what they call the most notable and newsworthy attacks from 2004 to present.


Sderot lies one kilometer from the Gaza Strip and town of Beit Hanoun. Since the beginning of the Second Intifada in October 2000, the city has been under constant rocket fire from Qassam rockets launched by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Despite the imperfect aim of these homemade projectiles, they have caused deaths and injuries, as well as significant damage to homes and property, psychological distress and emigration from the city.

The Israeli government has installed a "Red Dawn" alarm system to warn citizens of impending rocket attacks, although its effectiveness has been questioned. Thousands of Qassam rockets have been launched since Israel's disengagement from the Gaza Strip in September 2005.

In May of 2007, the Washington Post wrote an article about Sderot, a border town in Israel that has been the target of over 4,000 rocket attacks since 2001.

Schools closed and residents huddled in bomb shelters or fled in buses Wednesday as another barrage of rockets struck this Israeli border town, the target of thousands of Palestinian attacks since 2001.

On page two of that article Sderot's mayor, Eli Moyal had some harsh criticism for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert when he said "No country in the world would allow one of its cities to be bombed for six years straight."

The New York Times, on that same day dealt with the evacuation details of Sderot from those attacks.

In December of 2007, Mayor Eli Moyal, resigned as Mayor and in a radio interview he cited his reason as the governments evasion of responsibility and helplessness against the threat from Gaza.

Since the Hamas took over the Gaza Strip from Fatah in mid-June 2007 until the end of December 2007, 475 missiles and 631 mortar bombs have been fired at Israeli cities.

You can see a list of a small portion of those attacks here.

In 2005,when Israel decided to withdraw completely from Gaza, statements such as the one from Abu Faddak, were made, via the Christian Science Monitor, "If they leave Gaza, we won't fight from Gaza.......",yet thousands of rockets are still being fired from..... Gaza.

"If there's no Israeli occupation, there is no need for resistance," says Abu Faddak, dressed in military gear that, judging from the Hebrew inside his khaki flak jacket, is stolen from the Israeli army. "If they leave Gaza, we won't fight from Gaza. But if they're still in Ramallah, there will be resistance in Ramallah."


The citizens of Gaza, non militant, are the ones caught in the middle here, the ones suffering and columnists have gathered together their feelings, hopes, desires and wishes, which came as a surprise to some.

In the New York Times, June 6, 2007, they quote Majed Azzam in a Hamas affiliated weekly publication, Al Risala in Gaza, as saying "Palestinians should have the courage to acknowledge the truth, that the only thing that prevents the chaos and turmoil in Gaza from spreading to the West Bank is the presence of the Israeli occupation.”

They also quote another Palestinian writer, Bassem al-Nabris, a poet from Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, who wrote in an Arabic electronic newspaper Elaph (found here) :

if there was a referendum in the Gaza Strip on the question of whether people would like the Israeli occupation to return, “half the population would vote ‘yes.’ But in practice,” he continued, “I believe that the number of those in favor is at least 70 percent, if not more.”

“If the occupation returns,” Mr. Nabris added, “at least there will be no civil war, and the occupier will have a moral and legal obligation to provide the occupied people with employment and food, which they now lack.”
You can find more reactions and writings in the Palestinian press at MEMRI.

The non militants in Gaza are tired, hungry, scared and want an end to the constant conflict, yet the rockets continue to barrage Israeli cities and Israeli's continue to try to stop them.

It is a vicious cycle and hopefully these border closures will induce the militants to stop firing rockets into Israel on a more permanent basis, so that life in the Gaza can start to improve.

If not, things are bound to get worse before they have a chance of getting better.

As Arye Mekel said above.... The ball is in their court now.