Israel Orders Immediate Halt of Fuel Deliveries to Gaza

Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ordered an immediate halt to fuel deliveries headed to the besieged Gaza Strip in response to what he said were attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians, his office announced on Friday.

The announcement on Friday follows the killing of six Palestinians by Israeli forces during the ongoing Great March of Return protests.

Qatari-bought fuel began arriving on Tuesday in a bid to alleviate the humanitarian situation in the besieged enclave and prevent any escalation in Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said at the time:

The fuel deliveries were aimed at easing months of protests along the separation fence east of Gaza, which has been under a crippling Israeli and Egyptian blockade for more than a decade.

Last week, Lieberman’s office announced a further reduction to the Gaza’s fishing zone, from nine nautical miles to six.

Lieberman said the measure was in response to riots along the fence dividing Israel and Gaza and a midweek beach protest in which fishing boats and demonstrators gathered at the northwest end of the Gaza Strip.

The United Nations has warned that Israel’s 11-year blockade of the strip has resulted in a catastrophic humanitarian situation.

Under the UN-brokered deal, Qatar pays for the fuel which is then delivered through Israel with UN monitoring, a diplomatic source said.

A Qatari official, speaking to Reuters news agency on Sunday, said Doha planned to help with Gaza’s power crisis at the request of donor states in the UN, to prevent an escalation of the existing humanitarian disaster.

Israel’s energy minister, Yuval Steinitz, told Reuters on Monday that Qatar was trying to help prevent a Gaza flare-up.

Source: Palestine Chronicle