UN: Food aid to Gazans halted due to Israeli fuel cutoff
Hamas to Gazans: Storm borders and break siege, as Israel accuses group of creating 'fabricated fuel crisis.'
An official has said the United Nations stopped distributing food to Palestinian refugees in Gaza because its vehicles have run out of fuel following Israel's blockade of the Strip.
The official, Adnan Abu Hasna, said 700,000 Palestinians who depend on the UN for basic food packets, won't be getting them. He said the United Nations Relief Works Agency used the last of its fuel on Thursday. That forced it to stop distribution.
Israel shipped fuel to Gaza to run its electricity power plant but maintains a ban on gasoline and diesel fuel, following a deadly terror attack at a fuel depot in Nahal Oz on April 9, which left two Israeli civilains killed.
On Wednesday, the Hamas organization issued notices calling upon the public in the Gaza Strip to arrive en masse at the crossings on the border with Israel after Friday prayers. According to the notices, the purpose of this mass demonstration is to break the blockade imposed by Israel on all the Gaza border crossings when Hamas seized control over the Strip last June.
The demonstrators are not expected to attempt to break down the barriers at the crossing, as was the case In January, when Hamas militants blew holes in the border barrier separating the Gaza Strip and Egypt. However, some violent clashes are expected.
It appears that Hamas is trying to erase from memory the failed anti-Israel demonstrations in February, in which Hamas was planning to create a human chain made up of 40,000 children that was to cross Gaza from north to south. Ultimately, the residents of the Strip did not heed Hamas' calls and the demonstrations, hailed in advance as massive, yielded a disappointing turnout.
The announced border marches will take place two days after Israel renewed the supply of fuel to the Strip, after having cut off the supply following a terror attack at a border crossing last week. On Wednesday, Israel resumed piping industrial diesel fuel to the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz fuel depot, transferring to the Gaza Strip about a million liters, enough to operate Gaza's power plant for at least three days.
Israel accuses Hamas of fabricating fuel crisis in Gaza Strip
Israel on Thursday accused Hamas of causing a "fabricated fuel crisis" by refusing to collect and distribute the one million liters of fuel Israel has delivered to the salient.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said Wednesday that "there is currently no fuel available in the Gaza Strip on the open markets" and as a result the organization would be forced to halt food assistance to 650,000 refugees in the enclave.
However, Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel said Thursday that the million liters of fuel that Israel transferred to the Gaza Strip three weeks ago are still waiting to be collected on the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz fuel terminal.
"Hamas can take the fuel but doesn't," he charged, accusing the Islamist organization of deliberately wanting to claim there is a crisis in the Strip.
Residents of the Strip said Hamas officials have taken fuel for their own purposes and given it to high-ranking officials, governmental employees and its own students, but failed to distribute the remainder to the population at large.