MH60S

Friday, July 28, 2006

Impact of Israeli Naval Blockade



Israel's naval blockade of Lebanon is having an impact as reported here:
As the Israeli military blockade of Lebanese ports enters its third week, officials here say they are running critically short of fuel for power plants.

"All our power generation depends on fuel oil," Public Works and Transportation Minister Mohammed Safadi said Thursday. "We are five days away from running out."
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Attacks on the key Jieh power plant 20 miles south of Beirut caused a massive oil spill that has coated 50 miles of Lebanese coastline. The popular Ramlat al Baida public beach in west Beirut is covered with a 10-foot band of black tar.

"This is a catastrophe I wouldn't wish on any country in the world," Environment Minister Yacoub Sarraf said. Attempts to gauge the extent of the spill, Sarraf said, have been complicated by the air and sea embargo that prevents him from viewing it by plane or boat.

"I am not even allowed to go out in a patrol boat," he said. "I've had to resort to calling captains on ships at sea to find out what they have observed."

Sarraf said he sent a frantic appeal this week to the U.N. Mediterranean Action Plan environmental program in Athens for help with the cleanup. But the program's coordinator, Paul Mifsud, said nothing could be done until the fighting had ended.

"The extent of the pollution and the type of pollutant would call for a complex and long shoreline cleanup operation," Mifsud said. "However, international assistance could be considered only once the hostilities in the area have ceased."

The most pressing problem facing the country is the looming electric power shortage that threatens hospitals, government buildings and residential neighborhoods.
Israel has opened the blockade to allow evacuations of foreigners from Lebanon and to allow the inflow of some humanitarian supplies, see here.

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