Palestinian civilians in Gaza face a humanitarian catastrophe after the Israeli Government blocked all electricity, water and fuel imports to the enclave in an attempt to leverage hostages back from Islamist militant group Hamas.

The only remaining power station in Gaza ran out of fuel on Wednesday, leaving the district with no sustained source of electricity.

Israel’s Energy Minister Israel Katz said in a tweet: “Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electrical switch will be turned on, no water hydrant will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home. Humanitarian for humanitarian. And no one will preach us morals.”

Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israeli civilians living along the country’s border with Gaza on Saturday, killing at least 1,300 Israeli citizens and injuring many more. Some 150 people were taken hostage by Hamas and are now being held in Palestine in what has been described as Israel’s “most complex hostage crisis” in history.

On Thursday it was reported that Turkey’s government is in talks with Hamas about releasing the Israeli hostages. “Turkey is carrying out negotiations regarding the civilian prisoners held by Hamas. Upon President Tayyip Erdogan’s orders, the relevant institutions are carrying out a process regarding the civilians held by Hamas,” an anonymous source told Reuters, without providing further details.

In a separate tweet, Katz acknowledged that Gaza’s power station “has collapsed and there is no electricity in Gaza”, adding that the government “will continue to tighten the siege until the Hamas threat to Israel and the world is removed”.  

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Without electricity, hospitals in Gaza, already under immense strain from decades of intermittent conflict and illegal Israeli occupation, are at risk of complete catastrophe as Israel’s response to Hamas’ attack ramps up.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Marwan Jalani, director of humanitarian organisation Palestine Red Crescent, said that this outbreak of violence from both sides is the “worst moment in the entire history… of this long conflict”. He added that currently, his organisation has no way to coordinate medical aid across the enclave and that several medical professionals had been “directly hit” as they attended the wounded.

A group of independent UN experts, which includes several UN special rapporteurs, have described Israel’s response as “indiscriminate military attacks against the already exhausted Palestinian people of Gaza”.

“They have lived under unlawful blockade for 16 years, and already gone through five major brutal wars, which remain unaccounted for,” the group said in a statement. “This amounts to collective punishment. There is no justification for violence that indiscriminately targets innocent civilians, whether by Hamas or Israeli forces. This is absolutely prohibited under international law and amounts to a war crime.”