Israel's government on Monday caved to pressure from international peace envoy Tony Blair and reversed a decision to maintain a temporary halt on fuel supplies to the Gaza Strip until Palestinian forces based there stopped firing rockets at southern Israel.
Despite an ongoing informal truce, terrorists operating out of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip have fired some 80 rockets and mortar shells at communities in southern Israel over the past week.
The attacks began after Israel conducted a raid against a tunnel Hamas terrorists were digging under the Gaza-Israel border in order to kidnap Israeli soldiers.
As the barrage of rockets escalated, Israel stopped allowing daily convoys of delivery trucks from reaching Gaza and reduced the delivery of industrial fuel to a bare minimum.
Hamas claimed that the lack of fuel was threatening to plunge Gaza into darkness as its only power plant could not remain operational. Israel's Foreign Ministry fired back by noting that over 70 percent of Gaza's electricity is supplied by Israel, and that the supply of electricity had been unaffected by the new sanctions.
Nevertheless, Hamas's public relations ruse apparently worked on Blair, who reportedly put heavy pressure on Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak when the two met in Tel Aviv on Monday.
Meanwhile, Barak, Vice Prime Minister Haim Ramon and Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann are pressing the rest of the government to approve massive retaliatory artillery fire on any Gaza town from which rockets are launched at Israel.