Israeli PM cuts Gaza fuel transfers amid flurry of threats

Aron Heller
Associated Press

Jerusalem – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the military on Monday to cut fuel transfers to Gaza in half, in response to rocket attacks from the coastal strip, raising tensions along Israel’s southern border in addition to those stemming from a renewed threat from the north amid reported Israeli strikes on Iranian targets in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

Netanyahu also instructed his staff to prepare plans for building a new neighborhood in a West Bank settlement near where a teenage Israeli girl was killed in an explosion last week. Israel said the blast was a Palestinian attack.

Israeli forces search of Palestinian vehicle near the area of an attack, west of the West Bank city of Ramallah, Sunday.

The flurry of activity comes amid a massive manhunt by Israeli troops for the 17-year-old’s killers and dire warnings from Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader of an imminent attack, just weeks before an unprecedented repeat Israeli election.

Netanyahu ordered the Gaza measure to take effect immediately and until further notice. The cut is expected to exacerbate the already dire flow of electricity in the impoverished coastal strip.

By Monday afternoon, one of the three turbines at Gaza’s lone power plant was shut down, the strip’s electricity distribution company said, further scaling down production amid the shortages. The rotating blackouts for households, now on an eight-hour-on, eight-our-off supply schedule, would also see further disruptions, it said.

The move follows airstrikes the military carried out overnight in the Gaza Strip, after three rockets were launched from the territory into southern Israel.

The military said the airstrikes included one on the office of a Hamas commander in the northern Gaza Strip. There were no reports of casualties.

Israel has carried out hundreds of airstrikes in Syria in recent years, most of them aimed at arms shipments believed to be headed from Iran to its Shiite proxy Hezbollah.