GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip - Gaza City was plunged into darkness Sunday after Israel blocked the shipment of fuel that powers its only electrical plant in retaliation for persistent rocket attacks by Gaza militants.To read the rest of the story, click here. And for more about those rocket attacks and the havoc they reek on life in the Western Negev, read my report from Sderot and also this and this and this.
The power cut sent already beleaguered Gazans to stock up on food and batteries in anticipation of dark, cold days ahead. Gaza officials warned the move would cause a health catastrophe while a U.N. agency and human rights groups condemned Israel.
"We have the choice to either cut electricity on babies in the maternity ward or heart surgery patients or stop operating rooms," Gaza Health Ministry official Dr. Moaiya Hassanain said.
Israel justified the cutoff because of continuous rocket attacks by Gaza militants. Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Meckel said the Gaza Strip continues to receive 70 percent of its electricity supply directly from Israel, which would not be affected, and another 5 percent from Egypt.
The blackout "is a Hamas ploy to pretend there is some kind of crisis to attract international sympathy," he told The Associated Press.