Monday, 7 March 2011

Egyptian revolt is strategic and economic threat to Israel as 60% of gas threatened

This Bloomberg article focuses on the existential threat to Israel posed by the Egyptian uprising, and of course, by implication, the wider Arab revolutionary movement. Palestinian leaders have been freed from prisons and 60% of Israel's natural gas supply is threatened. Article seems to suggest the pipeline - which has its main metering station at El Arish, scene of battles against the police and other security forces involving bedouins armed with RPGs and the wider population which soon set up its own popular committees - is either down or severely disrupted, although the army is meant to have 'restored order'.
Weshah learned about the Cairo protests from watching Egyptian television in a group room in the prison. He described a scene that night, 14 days before Mubarak’s ouster, in which inmates started banging on the walls and bars of their cells and then overpowered guards who responded to the uproar.

“It was very scary, with intensive gunfire and prisoners shot dead on the floor,” Weshah said. “We just kept running and followed some Egyptian prisoners who took us to a safe place.”

Weshah was one of nine Palestinians who made their way to Gaza after the jail break, according to interviews with them all. Another was Ayman Noufal, one of the top commanders of the Hamas militia known as the Al-Qassam Brigades. He had been held for three years. A Hamas spokesman declined to comment...

...The metering station is outside El-Arish, before the spot where the 100-kilometer (62-mile) pipeline splits into two branches bringing gas separately to Israel and to Jordan, Maiman spokesman Zeev Feiner said. He said the explosion was apparently set off by unidentified “terrorist elements,” declining to say how it was detonated.

The pipeline currently provides Israel with 2.5 billion cubic meters of gas a year, about $400 million worth, according to Israel Electric Corp. That is expected to rise to 7 billion cubic meters in 2014, Feiner said.

“Let’s not forget that the most important economic arrangement signed with Egypt since the peace agreement is the agreement on gas,” Landau said March 6 in an interview with Israel’s Army Radio. “When events in Egypt settle down, we hope and certainly want the supply of gas to resume.” more

Karni crossing closure shuts major grain import route - increases aid cost 20 per cent

The implications of the total closure of Karni commercial crossing on the lives of ordinary Palestinians is highlighted by the stopping of the conveyor belt used to transfer grain through the crossing and the 20% increase in cost now faced by the UN in getting aid to 750,000 people.
(IRIN) The complete closure of Karni crossing on the Israel-Gaza border announced on 2 March will make the delivery of food aid to Gaza more difficult, according to UN agencies assisting Palestinians in the Gaza Strip where over half the population is estimated to be food insecure.

The closure of Karni will also add 20 percent to the cost of aid delivery, said Chris Gunness, spokesperson for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Jerusalem, at a time when UNRWA is facing a budget deficit of over US$50 million.

Some 750,000 Palestinians receive UNRWA food assistance in Gaza, out of about one million refugees living in the territory.

Karni, controlled by Israel, is the only commercial crossing with the facilities to allow large numbers of trucks to enter Gaza. Closed to trucks since June 2007, the conveyor belt had been operating to transfer grain, until the Israeli authorities announced its complete closure on 2 March. more