Life could be about to become more difficult for the one and a half million people living in the Gaza Strip. Israel’s decision to formally define the territory as an “enemy entity” means Ehud Olmert’s government could argue that it cannot be bound by international law to supply fuel and electricity. While agreeing that the Hamas-run Gaza is a hostile entity, US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice insisted that the US would not abandon its commitments: “It’s no secret that the US declares Hamas a terrorist organisation, and that we have been troubled by the fact that Hamas did what they did in Gaza against legitimate Palestinian institutions, against the legitimate institutions of the Palestinian Authority. (But) We will not abandon the innocent Palestinians in Gaza, and indeed will make every effort to deal with their humanitarian needs.”
Israel says the move is a legal response to Palestinian cross-border rocket attacks. Public pressure for retaliation has grown since a rocket fired from Gaza hit an army base last week, injuring 69 soldiers. The UN, however, has urged Israel to reconsider its decision, while Hamas has described the move as a declaration of war.