Monday, October 29, 2007

"Israel's decision to cut power in Gaza is illegal, says UN"

By Donald Macintyre in Jerusalem

Published: 30 October 2007

On the Web at:

The UN's top official in Gaza will tell British ministers today that Israel's cuts in fuel and power to the Palestinians violate international law, while the isolation of Hamas has strengthened extremism and started to drive non-affiliated moderates who can leave Gaza to do so.

"We keep saying people in Gaza are at rock bottom but they keep digging into the rock," Karen Koning- Abu Zayd, head of the UN refugee agency UNRWA, said of Israel's decision to start power cuts and reduce fuel supplies to Gaza in response to continued Qassam rocket attacks. Israel began cutting supplies on Sunday...

...The UNRWA chief, who will meet Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development and other ministers in London today, said: "I can understand why from the Israeli point of view people may think we need a stronger reaction to the Qassams [and] nothing has worked so far. But I don't see how you can want to punish people, all of them in Gaza, which means most of them who are not behind these activities, in the way you are doing now." In an interview, Ms Koning-Abu Zayd said: "Most people, even in some of the refugee camps, live in high-rise apartments in Gaza and if you don't have electricity, you don't have water, you probably don't have food and if you're older or sick in any way you probably can't climb up and down all those stairs." A cut in fuel would have a "very serious" effect on civilian movement.