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Israel Reduces Fuel Supplies to Gaza

Israel is tightening sanctions on the Gaza Strip. As Robert Berger reports from VOA's Jerusalem bureau, the move is casting a shadow over peace efforts.

Israel began cutting fuel supplies to Gaza in response to months of Palestinian rocket attacks.

"The Cabinet has already decreed the Gaza Strip a hostile territory. We will do what we can to stop this rocket fire," says Israeli spokeswoman Miri Eisen.

Israel has been gradually severing ties with Gaza since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized control of the territory in a Palestinian civil war in June. Hamas, which seeks Israel's destruction, routed the Fatah forces of President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads a more moderate government in the West Bank.

Israel has already restricted the flow of goods into Gaza, but this is the first time it has targeted vital energy supplies. Eisen says Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will not completely pull the plug on Gaza.

"The prime minister confirmed Israel's commitment that there will not be a humanitarian crisis in Gaza," said Eisen.

As Israel seeks to isolate Hamas in Gaza, it is strengthening ties with the Abbas government in the West Bank. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are hammering out a document on Palestinian statehood to be presented at an international peace conference in the United States later this year.

But Fatah official Kadour al-Faris told Israel Radio that peace talks and sanctions do not go hand-in-hand.

Al-Faris said Israel is talking about peace while carrying out acts of war against the Palestinian people in Gaza. He described the fuel cuts as collective punishment.