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10 Apr, 2008 22:03

Israel cuts Gaza’s fuel supply

Israel has cut off fuel supplies to Gaza's 1,4 million residents. It follows Wednesday's attack when Palestinian militants killed two Israeli civilians after infiltrating the only terminal for piping fuel into the area.

The cuts first started in June last year when the Palestinian Hamas faction took control of the region. But as Gaza relies on the Jewish state for almost all its fuel, residents are struggling with the shortages.

For many motorists who make it to petrol stations through the queue the sign says ‘no more fuel’.

“We come here, wait and in the end we don't get any fuel. Sometimes we'll wait for two or three days and still we don't get any fuel,” taxi driver Munir Abu Amra says.

These are measures Israel says it has to take to pressure Hamas militants to halt rocket fire on Israeli border towns.

Petrol station owners in Gaza say the area needs 800,000 litres of fuel every week. Israel now only supplies 70,000 litres – just 8% of what the territory needs.

“I see it as a slow death, the taps are being turned off little by little by little. We now have a situation where we just do not have enough fuel in Gaza for the basics,” John Ging, head of United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).

But Israel insists it is supplying Gaza with more than enough for its basic needs and accuses Hamas of using the fuel to transport rockets.

Gaza residents have been seeking their own solution, some pay black market prices others are turning to natural gas.

“Under the current circumstances, fuel is very difficult to come by. So people convert their cars to run on natural gas because they have no other choice,” mechanic Wael Awad.

The UN has labelled Israel's move as collective punishment. Israel says it’s a way of protecting itself against daily rocket attacks.

Either way everyone living in the area is counting the cost of the fuel shortage.