ISRAEL's blockade of the Gaza Strip, and its thus cutting off food, medicine and fuel supplies to 1.5 million hapless Palestinians, will be strongly condemned. Gaza's sole power plant that relies on imported fuel, had to shut down, causing blackout. Worse still, the population is facing the menace of Israel air raids that kill non-combatants, including women and children. The blockade would only serve to make violence flare in the volatile region, putting into jeopardy the fate of the five-month-old truce between the two sides. Israel has used blockades on many occasions before as a tactic to dampen the Palestinians' freedom struggle. With the death of Yasser Arafat, followed by a more moderate Palestinian leadership at the helm and with popular Hamas in office, it was hoped that the situation would improve. Yet the Israeli establishment did not cash in on the opportunity and preferred to continue with its policy of repression, with the aim of denying Palestinians the right to have their own state. Adopting the policy of divide and rule, it effectively created some pliable sections among the people and forced them to compromise on principles, most probably visualising a balkanised Palestinian territory, if at all it were to have a state. The international community in general and the US, the main support of Israel, in particular, must realise that the ongoing conflict is not only a territorial but also has become an emotional, though principled, issue for the entire Muslim world, that calls for an immediate resolution in accordance with the wishes of Palestinians if the world is to see peace in that troubled land.