Disruptions would be steadily increased and tied to any rocket attacks from the Palestinian territory.
Jerusalem - Israel approved Thursday a plan to start punitive disruptions of the Gaza Strip's scarce supplies of electricity in response to rocket attacks from the Palestinian territory.
Israeli officials, noting that Palestinian militants fire rockets across the border almost daily, said the sanctions could start anytime. The plan calls for initial power cutoffs of 15 minutes, followed by increasingly longer ones each time more rockets fall.
Gaza's 1.5 million people get 60% of their electricity from Israel, which pulled its troops and settlers from the territory in 2005 but still controls Gaza's borders. Although many buildings have backup generators, power cutbacks would add to the impoverished coastal strip's hardships.
Since Israel's government began debating the sanctions, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and numerous international organizations have warned against what they say is unfair collective punishment.
Yet Israeli leaders defended the planned cutbacks in the hope that Gaza's ruling Hamas movement would respond by reining in the militants, whose crude, short-range rockets have terrorized Sderot and other border communities in Israel. The Israeli military has proved unable to stop the assault.
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