GAZA STRIP - The UN has urged Israel to reconsider its decision to declare the Gaza Strip as an "enemy entity", warning that cutting vital services would violate international law.
The Israeli move to cut off the power, water and fuel supplies on which Gaza is almost entirely dependent was backed by the United States on Wednesday.
The Israeli prime minister's office said Ehud Olmert's security cabinet had approved the "enemy entity" classification and there would be "limitations on imports to the Gaza Strip and a reduction in the supply of fuel and electricity".
The move is seen as retaliation for Palestinian rocket fire.
Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary-general, said Wednesday's declaration intended to interrupt essential services could exacerbate the Palestinians' difficult conditions.
"Such a step would be contrary to Israel's obligations towards the civilian population under international humanitarian and human rights law," he said on Wednesday.