'Without fuel deal, Gaza shuts sole power plant'

Ma'an: With emergency injection from Israel spent, absence of Hamas-Egypt fuel deal causes plant to close.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 25, 2012 18:24
1 minute read.
Gazans arrange gas cylinders at gas station

Gazans arrange gas cylinders at gas filling station R. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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After finishing the last of an emergency fuel injection from Israel, Gaza's sole power plant shut down on Sunday morning, the Palestinian Ma'an News agency reported.

Awaiting the completion of a fuel deal between Hamas and Egypt, the Gazan fuel plant has been working intermittently. Sunday's closure was the fourth since mid-February, according to Ma'an.

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Israel allowed nine fuel tankers to cross into the Gaza Strip on Friday to ease a severe power shortage triggered by the Egypt-Hamas dispute over supplies.

The delivery of around 450,000 liters of industrial diesel was the first to Gaza's only power station coming via Israel in almost a year after Hamas softened on its resistance to accepting supplies from its Jewish neighbor.

The fuel crisis has crippled Gaza in recent weeks. Petrol pumps have run dry and its 1.7 million residents suffer major electricity black outs.

The dispute followed Egypt's insistence that fuel imports to Gaza pass through the Israeli-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border and its crackdown on smuggled supplies last month.

Hamas objects to that arrangement, not wanting to allow Israel - a country whose right to exist it does not recognize - the power to block supplies in times of tension. It wants direct trade with Egypt, which could strengthen Gaza's economy and Hamas's popularity.

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The crisis is a further example of the rocky relationship between Hamas and Egypt, which favors Hamas's rivals Fatah - the party that lost control of the Strip to Hamas in 2007.

Friday's delivery followed "intensive and successful contacts" between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, and Egypt and Israel, said Raed Fattouh, the Palestinian Authority official in charge of coordination with Israel over the passage of supplies into Gaza.

Initially Hamas did not want to accept the diesel but later relented.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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