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(photo credit: AP)
Dor Alon Energy Israel Ltd., the country's second-biggest fuel company, has cut off the supply of fuel to the Gaza Strip's gas stations, in response to a request from the Palestinian Authority. As a result, Dor Alon is likely to lose millions of shekels.
"The Palestinian Authority demanded the halt of gasoline supply for financial reasons, as they probably can't pay the bills, and they cannot expect the Israeli government to pay," a knowledgeable source said.
However, the sole provider of gas to Gaza will continue to supply fuel to Gaza's electric power station, as the European Union has guaranteed payment.
"At this time, there is no gasoline shortage in Gaza as far as is known," the Infrastructure Ministry said. "The supply of water and power to Gaza by Israeli companies is continuing as usual."
Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer has scheduled an urgent meeting for Wednesday to discuss the supply of water, fuel and electricity to the PA with representatives of Dor Alon, Israel Electric Corp Ltd., the Mekorot national water company and Paz Oil Co.
Gazans said the move by Dor Alon would halt traffic in the Strip, whose 1.3 million residents already face shortages of food and other essential supplies. Shipments into the territory dried up with the outbreak last week of fighting between Hamas and Fatah, which ended in Hamas's takeover of Gaza.
Asef Hamdi, a employee at a Gaza gas station, feared what the end of the fuel shipments would mean for the territory. "The results will be Gaza in full darkness, with no cars," he said. "In simple words... welcome to the Taliban lifestyle."
Panic buying by Gaza motorists led local service stations to ration customers to 10 liters each, and lines quickly built up at the pumps.
About 30 percent of Gazans were cut off from the electric grid when infrastructure was damaged by the fighting, and they currently depend on generators, with their rapidly dwindling fuel supply.
PA Health Ministry officials said they hoped that hospitals, currently running on generators, would be reconnected to the grid before their fuel reserves run out, but that in any event, a gasoline drought would immobilize ambulances and prevent deliveries of blood, medicines and food to medical facilities.