Israel reduces Gaza fuel supply after rocket attack

Palestinians take part in an-anti Israel protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence in the southern Gaza Strip August 23, 2019. (Reuters)
Updated 26 August 2019

Israel reduces Gaza fuel supply after rocket attack

  • Israel imposes cut after rocket attacks from Gaza
  • Palestinian enclave suffers chronic blackouts

JERUSALEM: Israel said on Monday it was cutting by half the amount of fuel it supplies to Gaza’s only power plant, in response to rocket attacks from the Palestinian territory.
Three rockets were fired from the Hamas Islamist-run enclave at southern Israel on Sunday and two were intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system, the military said. There was no claim of responsibility.
After the attack, Israel launched an air strike against what the military described as a Hamas military compound. No casualties were reported on either side of the volatile border.
In a statement, COGAT, a unit in the Defense Ministry that coordinates civilian issues with Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, said “cutting the amount of diesel in half will significantly reduce” the plant’s output.
It said the measure, “following the firing of rockets ... and the continued violation of stability and security” will be in effect until further notice.
Gaza has long suffered from a shortage of electricity and chronic blackouts. A new power line from Israel has been proposed to alleviate the situation.
Mohammad Thabet, spokesman for the Gaza power company, described the Israeli decision as collective punishment.
“We already are in a crisis and now the Israeli decision will make it worse. It will have a grave impact on the lives of 2 million people and on vital services such as hospitals,” Thabet told Reuters.
Currently residents get six hours of electricity followed by 12 hours of blackout. Thabet said the fuel cuts would decrease power time to only four-hour periods.
In a series of border confrontations in recent weeks, Israel said it killed at least eight Palestinian militants who tried to infiltrate its territory.
Israeli and Egyptian blockades have brought the Gazan economy to the brink of collapse. Recent foreign aid cuts and sanctions by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’s rival in the West Bank, have worsened the situation.

Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

Updated 20 min 22 sec ago

Financial Action Task Force tightens screws on Tehran over terror financing

  • Watchdog says Iran failed to fulfill its promises to curb terror financing despite repeated warnings
  • Iran central bank chief Abdolnasser Hemmati said the decision will not affect the country

PARIS: An international agency monitoring terrorism funding announced tough new financial scrutiny of Iran on Friday and added seven countries to a watch list.

Pakistan, meanwhile, won a reprieve from the Financial Action Task Force at its meetings in Paris this week. The monitoring body gave Pakistan’s government another four months to crack down on terrorism financing and did not put the country on a damaging “black list.”

Iran and North Korea are the only two countries currently on the agency’s black list. That means international financial transactions with those countries are closely scrutinized, making it costly and cumbersome to do business with them. International creditors can also place restrictions on lending to black-listed countries.

The FATF decided on Friday to further tighten the screws on Iran, imposing extra measures that could require audits or more transactions and make it even harder for foreign investors to do business there.

The group made the decision because Iran failed to fulfill its promises to the FATF despite repeated warnings. In a statement, the organization said that Iran hasn’t done enough to criminalize terrorist financing, require transparency in wire transfers or freeze terrorist assets targeted by UN sanctions.

The head of Iran’s central bank, Abdolnasser Hemmati, said the decision will not affect the country.

“Such incidents will create no problem for Iran’s foreign trade and currency,” he said in a statement. Hemmati said the FATF decision was based on the “enmity” of the US and Israel toward Iran.

Pakistan, meanwhile, has been trying to get off the FATF gray list, the color code for countries that are only partially fulfilling international rules for fighting terrorism financing and money laundering.

Pakistan’s government has been working to shore up the country’s faltering economy and attract foreign investment and loans, making the FATF’s assessment especially important.

The FATF said that Pakistan had fulfilled 14 of 27 steps to get off the watch list, but still must do more to track money transfers and investigate and prosecute terrorism financiers.

The Pakistani government said in a statement that it “stands committed for taking all necessary action required” to fulfill the remaining steps. “A strategy in this regard has been formulated and is being implemented.”

The Financial Action Task Force also put seven new countries on its gray list because of gaps or failures in stemming the financing of terrorist groups or money laundering. The countries — Albania, Barbados, Jamaica, Mauritius, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Uganda — were ordered to take a series of legal and other steps to be removed from the list and avoid further financial punishment.