Israel on Tuesday unleashed its heaviest bombardment in a 3-week-old war against Hamas, striking symbols of the militant group’s control in Gaza and firing tank shells that Palestinian officials said shut down the strip’s only power plant. Thick black smoke from the plant’s burning fuel tank rose for hours. The station’s shutdown further disrupted the supply of electricity to the 1.7 million people packed into the narrow Palestinian coastal territory. The lack of electricity will also affect water supplies, since power is needed to operate water pumps.
It was like an earthquake. Roofs collapsed, walls cracked and wounded people everywhere.
Moussa al-Mabhouh, a volunteer for Gaza’s Civil Defense
The heavy strikes — which came a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday warned of a “prolonged” campaign against Hamas — were a new blow to international efforts to reach a sustainable truce in the fighting. Israel has vowed to stop the Hamas rocket and mortar fire that has reached increasingly deeper into its territory and to destroy a sophisticated network of tunnels that have been used by the militants to infiltrate the Jewish state. Hamas has so far rejected cease-fire efforts unless its demands are met.
We need at least one year to repair the power plant, the turbines, the fuel tanks and the control room. Everything was burned.
Fathi Sheik Khalil of the Gaza Energy Authority