Israel reduces power supply in move to ‘disengage’ from Gaza

· Olmert hitting back after Hamas rocket attacks
· Cuts break international law, rights groups say

Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem
Saturday February 9, 2008
The Guardian

Israel started cutting the amount of electricity it supplies to Gaza yesterday as part of a new economic campaign targeting Hamas that has drawn sharp criticism from human rights groups.

Power on one of 10 lines into the Palestinian territory was cut to hit back at militants firing rockets into Israel. Although the reduction amounts to less than 1% of the 124 megawatts that Israel sells to Gaza, further cuts are due in the weeks ahead as Israel seeks to “disengage” from Gaza.

There was little immediate sign it would halt the escalating conflict. Militants yesterday fired at least 20 makeshift rockets into Israel, damaging a factory.

The decision to cut electricity has been backed by Israel’s high court, which this month turned down a challenge by Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups. Human Rights Watch said: “The cuts are seriously affecting civilians who have nothing to do with these armed groups and that violates a fundamental principle of the laws of war.”

Continued . . .

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