Daily Israel Report

Govt.: Hamas Was Hoping to Stop Fuel Supply

Foreign Ministry officials say terrorists were trying to damage civilian infrastructure.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 4/9/2008, 9:48 PM

Foreign Ministry officials said Wednesday night that terrorist groups chose the Nachal Oz Crossing fuel depot as the site of a fatal attack in order to get Israel to stop the fuel supply to Gaza.  “Today’s attack again proves that the terrorists in Gaza not only attack Israelis, but also attempt to damage the civilian infrastructure that allows for normal life in Gaza,” they said.  Israel sees Hamas as responsible for Wednesday’s attack, officials said, even though the attack itself was carried out by members of other terrorist groups. 

IDF sources said that approximately four million liters of gasoline and diesel oil enter Gaza via the Nachal Oz crossing every week.  An unlimited supply of cooking fuel enters via the crossing as well.

By halting the supply of humanitarian aid, Hamas hopes to win world sympathy and incite Gaza Arabs against Israel, political analysts said.  Hamas took advantage of the most recent reduction in Gaza’s fuel supply to hold candlelit marches and accuse Israel of causing a humanitarian disaster. They also blew up the barrier between Gaza and Egypt in Rafiah, enabling Gazans to cross the border freely.

MKs Call to Close Crossing
Members of Knesset from the National Union/National Religious Party blamed government policy for the attack, and called on the government to close the crossing immediately.  The party’s Knesset faction chairman MK Uri Ariel said, “Once again Israelis are paying with their lives for the ‘gestures’ made for the good of the Palestinians... Instead of tightening the siege on the Gaza Strip and thus strangling terrorism, the government continues to fuel it.”

Minister of Religious Services Yitzchak Cohen (Shas) issued a similar call, saying Wednesday that Israel should cut off all but the most essential aid to Gaza.  “We need to strengthen the power of deterrence, to remind the Palestinians of the ‘price tag for every terror attack’ plan,” Cohen said.

IDF Begins Investigation
IDF officials began an investigation on Wednesday evening to figure out how four terrorists managed to infiltrate the crossing in broad daylight.  The terrorists cut their way through a security fence and entered the area without being noticed by army guards. 

In addition, two of the terrorists managed to escape back to Gaza after the attack.  The two were quickly eliminated in an IAF strike.

According to Channel 10 News, a local Arab warned IDF soldiers that a group of terrorists had infiltrated the area, but the warning came too late.  Two Israelis who worked in the terminal were killed in the ensuing attack.  Soldiers managed to shoot and kill two terrorists.

GOC Southern Command Major-General Yoav Gallant said the attack’s outcome could have been much worse.  The terrorists apparently hoped to kidnap a soldier, he said, or to infiltrate a nearby community.  “The forces’ quick actions led to the terrorists’ retreat after a brief battle,” he said.