As Israel reopened the Nahal Oz crossing Tuesday morning to allow a fuel delivery into Gaza, local Palestinian Authority terrorists were launching missile attacks at Jewish towns on the other side of the crossing, in the western Negev.
Israel delivered enough diesel fuel – 2.2 million liters – to run the Gaza power plant at 60 megawatts for a week. Israel and Egypt provide Gaza with another 140 megawatts from their own grids.
“Even without the new fuel supply they have enough electricity for more than half of Gaza, since Israel regularly supplies [the region] with 70 percent of its electricity needs,” said a senior defense official. Israel is not providing gasoline for cars, however.
“We will not allow a humanitarian crisis,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Kadima party members Monday night, “but we have no intention of making their lives easier. As far as I’m concerned, the residents of Gaza can walk, and they will not get gasoline because they have a murderous, terrorist regime that does not allow the residents of southern Israel to live in peace.”
Reportedly Israel was also to allow a single shipment of fuel, food and medicine into Gaza later in the day through the Kerem Shalom Crossing, where Hamas terrorists, now in control of Gaza, kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit in June 2006. Shalit’s condition and whereabouts are still unknown.
While the diesel and cooking gas supplies were being pumped through the crossing into Gaza, missiles were crossing in the other direction.
By 8:30 a.m., six Kassam rockets had already exploded in southern Israel, a favorite time for the first launches of the day which target Israeli children as they walk to school and their parents who are on their way to work.
Two of the rockets landed in the besieged city of Sderot, which has been battered not only physically, but also in terms of the morale of its residents and the few remaining manufacturers in its industrial zones.
One rocket hit a western Negev kibbutz. Three others landed in open areas in the Eshkol Regional Council. There were no reports of physical injuries or damage, but a woman was taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon to be treated for severe anxiety and psychological shock.
Gaza gas station owners refused to receive deliveries of diesel fuel when they arrived, complaining about the lack of gasoline to fuel private cars.
Diesel fuel can be used for a number of different purposes. Most trucks and many professional cabs in the Middle East, including in Israel, run on diesel fuel.
In addition, the majority of private electric generators used in many Arab villages, including those in the Negev and elsewhere in Israel, are fueled by diesel as well.
International organizations have been clamoring for Israel to lift its closure on the region, citing a lack of fuel and basic humanitarian supplies in Gaza. There was no mention of why such supplies could not be accessed through its border with Egypt, which has been sealed off since the Hamas terrorists took control of Gaza in June 2007.
Israel is also facing pressure from the US, the United Nations and the European Union to transfer control of the crossings to Hamas, which has yet to return IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit, who was kidnapped by its terrorists near one of the crossings in June 2006.
Dutch Foreign Minister Maxime Verhagen warned Monday in Jerusalem that sealing off Gaza would do nothing to stop the Kassam rocket attacks on Israel, but would “only result in greater support for Hamas” in the region. European nations have slammed what they insist is an Israeli exercise in collective punishment against the residents of Gaza.
In addition, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice added her voice to calls for Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza despite continuing rocket attacks emanating from the region.