EU warns against 'collective punishment' in Gaza
Mon Oct 29, 2007 4:28pm IST
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The European Union warned Israel on Monday against imposing "collective punishment" on the 1.5 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by reducing the territory's fuel supplies.
Israel began implementing the sanctions on Sunday in what it said was a response to Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli towns from the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave.
"We understand the distress that is caused in Israel by the continuing rocket attacks from Gaza," Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's commissioner for external relations, told Reuters after her meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem.
But she said the new sanctions "will have very grave consequences for the life of the local population" and serve to bolster Hamas and other militant groups. "There should not be collective punishment," she added.
Israeli defence officials said fuel supplies would be reduced by up to 14 percent, depending on the type of fuel. Electricity cuts would be limited to about one percent for 15 minutes a day in certain areas.
There was no obvious impact immediately on Gaza's electricity supply.
Palestinian officials said on Sunday that deliveries of fuel oil for Gaza's power station, as well as of diesel and petrol, were being cut from a quarter to a half.