Israel is again pumping fuel into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, averting a looming crisis in electricity supplies. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, there are also renewed diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire.
Israel has resumed shipments of diesel fuel to Gaza, avoiding an impending shutdown of the territory's only power plant. Fuel shipments have been sporadic since Palestinian militants attacked the Israeli fuel depot on the Gaza border two weeks ago, killing two civilian workers.
Israeli spokesman Arieh Mekel says despite that provocation, Israel does not want to bring further suffering on the Palestinians in Gaza.
"Our policy did not change," Mekel said. "We want to continue and provide supplies to Gaza because we are not interested (in), we do not want, a humanitarian crisis."
Israel has reduced food and fuel supplies to Gaza in response to daily Palestinian rocket attacks. Gaza residents say the shipment of limited supplies to the power plant will not alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people. Sami Abed is a radio broadcaster in Gaza.
Abed told Israel Radio that the situation in Gaza is a catastrophe. He said there is siege, unemployment, inflation, and shortages of food and gasoline. He said horse-drawn carriages have replaced cars as the most common mode of transportation in Gaza.
But there are indications that might change. Arab media reports say the Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules Gaza, is prepared to accept an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire. Under the emerging deal, Palestinians in Gaza would stop rocket and other attacks against Israel. In turn, Israel would halt military action and lift the crippling blockade on Gaza.