Mohamed Nasrallah joined in a long queue outside a Gaza bakery to buy a package of breads worth US$2.5 on Sunday, as Israel has closed all Gaza Strip crossings and barred fuels, basic food supplies and medicine into the poor and densely populated enclave.
Nasrallah, a 45-year-old father of four, exchanged anger with his countrymen in the queue over the ongoing deteriorating situation in the Gaza Strip amid a major severe humanitarian crisis expected within the coming hours, due to the shortage of fuel, electricity and food.
Gaza's only electrical plant announced on Sunday that it would shut down later in the day after an Israeli border closure blocked the entry of fuel that powers it.
In coordination with the Israeli government, Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided on Friday to close all Gaza Strip crossings, barring fuels to operate the Gaza power plant, fuels for gas stations as well as major food products and medical supplies.
"We were told that there will be no fuels for Gaza at all, and we don't know what to do," said Nasrallah, adding "this means that life will completely stop in every house, every factory, every street and every hospital."
The Palestinian Union of Gas Stations announced that around 180 gas stations all-over the enclave had closed down due to shortage of fuels, while the Palestinian Council of Industry said that 3,900 factories closed down "because they don't have electricity or fuel to operate their electric generators."
Chief of the Palestinian Committee to Confront Closure, Jamalal-Khudari, expected that Gaza Strip would witness the first ever humanitarian crisis "if Israel continues closing the Gaza Strip and barring fuels for operating the main Gaza power plant."
"We call on the world, on the Arabs and Muslims to do whatever they can in order to exert pressure on Israel to stop this policy of punishing and eliminating 1.5 million Palestinians," said al-Khudari.
He said that the whole life in Gaza will stop, "if there are no fuels for Gaza power plant and for vehicles. Consequently, Gaza Strip will sink into darkness, where hospitals, clinics, factories, bakeries ... everything will stop."
Gazans have been living with fuel cutbacks, power and supplies shortages for months. The power plant provides a third of the electricity for the territory's residents, thus the shutdown would largely affect the 400,000 people in Gaza City, which houses the territory's main population.
Palestinian Radio stations in Gaza quoted Israeli army officials as saying that the decision to keep Gaza under strict and full closure "is political, and the army has nothing to do in order to change the decision."
Al-Quds Radio station based in Gaza reported that the Israeli army said that the closure was one of the painful means to pressure on the Palestinians to revolt against militants who fire rockets at Sderot and Ashkelom round the clock to stop it."
Barak's decision came after a week-long of makeshift rockets attacks carried out by Islamic Hamas movement and other minor militant groups against Israel, which launched raids into Gaza since Tuesday and left 37 people dead.
Hamas on Sunday said it had fired over 200 homemade missile weapons, including 160 Qassam rockets, into southern Israel in six days as part of its response to an Israeli offensive into the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinians, however, are divided over the rocket attacks.
Acting Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the rockets "are useless and had only brought disasters to the people." Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held that the rockets attacks were "absurd and an Israel excuse to block any progress in the peace negotiations."
Their remarks induced criticism from different militant groups which said that "the rockets are fired to express the status of anger at the Israeli aggression practiced round the clock against our people."
Abu O'beida, spokesman of al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas movement's armed wing, said that "rockets are fired at Israel can't be an excuse for Israel to punish 1.5 million people, whether we fired rockets or we didn't fire, Israel is determined to continue its aggression on our people."
Hamas spokesman in Gaza Sami Abu Zuhri said "if the occupation wants to stop rockets attacks from Gaza at Israel, it should first stop its escalation and its massacres against the people."
"Israel doesn't need excuses in order to escalate its aggression against our people. Israel has been always carrying out aggressive policy and imposing closure on our people for years and years," said Abu Zuhri.
Ordinary Palestinians in Gaza said that both Israel and the militant groups "are responsible for the suffering of the people."
"The useless rockets, which had never killed any Israeli, had just brought us darkness and miserable life," said Husam Abu Fool, a Palestinian taxi driver who said the fuel in his car would only be sufficient for another day or two.
"Each side is convinced with what it does, the militants or the Israeli side. The only side, which really suffers and pays the price, is the poor civilian," said Abu Fool.
(Xinhua News Agency, January 21, 2008)