Senior Palestinian officials appealed for international intervention on Friday after Israel approveda plan to disrupt power supplies to the Gaza Strip in response to continuing rocket attacks.
The Israeli plan, authorized Thursday night by Defence MinisterEhud Barak, is expected to be implemented immediately after the next rocket attack occurs.
Israel's cabinet has also agreed to significantly reduce the volume of fuel being allowed into Gaza — a territory that is home to more than a million Palestinians.
Israel insists the cuts won't affect hospitals or other essential services, but human rights groups have denouncedthe measuresas collective punishment destined to furtherinflame tensions.
In September, Israel declared Gaza an "enemyentity" following the rise to power of Islamist groupHamas, which wrested control in the territory from forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement in June. Following the Hamas takeover, Israel and Egypt closed the borders with Gaza, and Israel allowed only basic items, such as food and medicine, into the territory.
The fuel decision comes as Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met in Jerusalem onFriday to try and agree on the parametres of peace talks expected before the end of the year.
Before the two leaders met, Abbas' senior aide Saeb Erekat called on the international community to "intervene immediately to protect the Palestinian people and compel Israel to comply with international humanitarian law."
Israel has been increasingly frustrated by its inability to stop the almost daily rocket attacks from inside Gaza. The rockets rarely find their target, but have increased in both range and frequency in recent months.
The imposition of further sanctions on Gaza is bound to increase daily difficulties for a people already suffering from an internationalembargo in placesince Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006. The group has refused to renounce violence or silence its repeated calls for Israel's destruction.
The sanctions have also increased speculationwithinIsraelthat Barak is preparing for anothersignificant incursion into Gaza.
Meanwhile, fourPalestinian militants werekilled Fridayin three separate clashes with the Israelitroops operating inside the territory, including an air strike that killed a Hamas member and wounded another.
Gaza's borders are not all controlled by Israel, as originally reported. It also shares a border with Egypt. Following the Hamas takeover in Gaza, Israel and Egypt closed the borders.Oct 29, 2007 4:00 PM ET