The Israeli cabinet decided on Sunday that there is no humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip and that the ruling Hamas party exploits the shortage of fuel supplies.

Israeli housing minister, Z'aiv Boim, said during the weekly cabinet meeting that "Hamas attempts to create a humanitarian crisis in Gaza , that is why it carried out a deadly attack on the fueling terminal in eastern Gaza last Wednesday."

He added that Israel will not allow the occurance of a humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, also expressing hope that Egypt will deal with any breach of its borders with Gaza.

Maier Shetreet, another Israeli minister, echoed the same remark, blaming Hamas for foiling what he termed as "every possible Israeli attempt to prevent a humanitarian crisis in the coastal area."

Meanwhile, Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, who is currently visiting Qatar, said that the problem in the Gaza Strip lies in that Hamas controls the region and that Israel will work on ensuring safety for its citizens from homemade rocket fire."

For its part, Hamas rejected such Israeli statements today, saying that they are "part of Israeli attempts to blackout the reality on the ground."  In a statement faxed to the press, a Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, stated that the latest Israeli reduction of fuel shipments to Gaza began one month ago and did not come in response to the fuel terminal attack on Wednesday.  Abu Zuhri made clear that the Israeli closure of the Nahal Auz fuel terminal will help create a humanitarian crisis, appealing to the international community to pressure Israel to stop actions against Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

Yesterday, chairman of the Committee to Break the Israeli Blockade, independent lawmaker Jamal aL-Khudara, said during a press conference that he expected Gaza to be plunged into darkness within few days, due to lack of fuel.

Israel, which controls fuel shipments to the Gaza Strip, reduced the amount of fuel Gaza receives on daily basis beginning September 2007, resulting in the ongoing humantarian crisis.