Israel on Wednesday branded the Gaza Strip a "hostile entity," clearing the way for it to shut off basic supplies to the Hamas-run territory, a senior official told AFP.
"Following extensive legal consulations, Israel has decided to declare Gaza as a hostile entity, with all the international implications," the official told AFP following a meeting of Israel's powerful security cabinet.
"This move will prepare the groundwork for sanctions against Gaza, such as the interruption of gas, electricity and water supply, which will occur in a gradual process," the official said on condition of anonymity.
The official said the cabinet did not take any immediate decisions to turn off the taps to the territory -- home to 1.5 million Palestinians -- but that the move "clears the way for the government to do so."
"Declaration of war"
Palestinian group Hamas said on Wednesday that Israel had effectively declared war by labeling the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip an "enemy entity."
"It is a declaration of war and continues the criminal, terrorist Zionist actions against our people," said Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas in the coastal enclave.
"They aim to starve our people and force them to accept humiliating formulas that could emerge from the so-called November peace conference," Barhoum said, referring to a U.S.-sponsored meeting expected to be held in two months.
"If Israel resorts to military action against Gaza we will be ready to confront them. We will not surrender and we will fight together with all our people," Barhoum said.
Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2007, 13:03