Israel: Only Essentials into Gaza

Ad Feedback - At a meeting Wednesday evening, Defense Ministry officials decided the partial blockade of goods into the Gaza Strip will remain in place.

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai chaired Wednesday night's meeting in place of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who was in France on an official state visit.

Among the items that will be allowed into Gaza is diesel fuel for the power plants, gasoline for ambulances, cooking gas and other assorted humanitarian supplies.

At a press conference with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, Barak said Israel did not intend to cause a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

"Israel doesn't want to create a humanitarian crisis, but unless there is peace [a cessation of rocket and mortar shell attacks and other acts of terror], the Palestinians won't have quiet either," Barak said, who later met with French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

In a related story, Palestinian journalists said the Gaza-based Hamas government feigned power shortages.

Palestinian journalists told Jerusalem Post Palestinian Affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh they were invited to Hamas government meetings being conducted by candlelight.

"They had closed the curtains in the rooms to create the impression that Hamas leaders were also suffering as a result of the power stoppage," one reporter told Toameh.

"It was obvious that the whole thing was staged," he said.

Another journalist said they were instructed to wait a few minutes before entering a Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) meeting to allow each legislator to light his candle. The drawn curtains attested to efforts by Hamas to "manipulate the media for political gain," the reporter said.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, YNet News service

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