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Gaza blacked out as Israel closes Gaza borders for sixth day

Nov. 10, 2008 10:19 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 10, 2008 10:19 A.M.)
Gaza - Ma'an - Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will spend Monday night without electricity as the Strip's only power plant is expected to shut down due to Israeli fuel cuts.

Officials say the power station will shut off all its three turbines at 6:30pm, shortly after sundown, plunging the Strip into darkness.

The power plant, which runs on European-supplied industrial diesel, provides power for 40% of the Strip's 1.5 million inhabitants, particularly in the center and south of the coastal territory. Other areas receive electricity from Egypt and Israel. In the north, in towns such as Beit Lahiya and Jabalia, residents already face daily power cuts due to an intermittent Israeli supply.

The Israeli military has locked down all of Gaza's commercial and humanitarian border crossings for the last six days.

Israeli authorities have prevented shipments of food, fuel and gas supplies from entering the Gaza Strip. Blackouts began on Sunday night as the power plant began to reduce production due to a lack of fuel.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the closures, and is expected to hold a "security assessment" meeting regarding the fuel shortage in Gaza on Monday.

The intensification of Israel's sanctions coincides with a visit by 11 European parliamentarians who sailed to Gaza in defiance of the Israeli blockade. The MPs condemned what they said was collective punishment of the people of Gaza.

"The siege of Gaza is an illegal and immoral act of collective punishment imposed on the civilian population of the Gaza Strip for the 'crime' of voting in internationally supervised elections for a party not supported by the Western powers," said former British cabinet secretary Clare Short, in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Al-Aqsa Brigades, the military wing of Fatah, claimed responsibility for the 11:05pm Sunday launch of a homemade projectile at the Israeli town of Kfar Aza east of Gaza City.

According to the Brigade's statement the attack "came in retaliation for Israeli aggressions and to affirm our choice of resistance."

Israeli sources confirmed the attack.

***Updated 13:36 Bethlehem Time

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