"At least 800,000 people are now in darkness"
Monday, 21 January 2008
Large parts of the Gaza Strip plunged into darkness overnight when its main power plant shut down after Israel blocked fuel supplies and shut the border.

"At least 800,000 people are now in darkness," said Derar Abu Sissi, general director of the plant. "The catastrophe will affect hospitals, medical clinics, water wells, houses, factories, all aspects of life."

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel questioned whether the complete shutdown of the generating plant was necessary, suggesting Hamas Islamists had a political interest in exaggerating the impact of the Israeli measures.

However Officials of the European Union, which funds fuel for the plant, confirmed Sunday's shipment was blocked and that reserves had dried up.

"This is how Israel wants Gaza: a sea of darkness. The civilised world is watching in complete silence," said Gaza store owner Abu Mohammad Osama.

Israel said the blockade was in response to rocket attacks from Gaza which cause minor damage to properties and very rarely kill.