Israel and Gaza's Hamas government were locked in a public relations battle over the depth of the hardship. An angry Hamas TV announcer shouted that "we are being killed, we are starving!" and Palestinian leaders pleaded for national unity, while Israel accused Hamas of fabricating a crisis to gain world sympathy.
Olmert said he would not allow a humanitarian crisis to unfold, but also warned that Gaza's 1.5 million residents won't be able to live a "pleasant and comfortable life" as long as southern Israel comes under rocket attack from Gaza."As far as I'm concerned Gaza residents will walk, without gas for their cars, because they have a murderous, terrorist regime that doesn't let people in southern Israel live in peace," Olmert told legislators from his Kadima Party.
In addition to the fuel it receives from Israel to power its electrical plant, Gaza gets about 70 percent of its electricity directly from Israel — and that has not been stopped, Israeli officials said.
The power plant supplies most of the remaining electricity, and Israeli officials acknowledged that the fuel used to supply it has been stopped.
Israeli Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror said a reduction of rocket attacks this week was not enough to lift the blockade. The army said five rockets were fired on Sunday, down from 53 in the two previous days.
Dror and other Israeli officials charged that Hamas was creating a false crisis and could resume the electricity if it wanted.
Hamas claimed that five people had died at hospitals because of the power outage. However, health officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were contradicting the official line, denied the claim. Daily rocket fire into its southern communities have virtually paralyzed life since a spike in fighting last week that followed a small Israeli ground operation in Gaza.