Gaza power plant [file]_390.
(photo credit: Reuters)
Egypt's parliamentary industry and energy committee announced Saturday that Cairo has agreed to provide fuel for the Gaza Strip's lone power plant, after fuel shortages and a dispute with smugglers forced the plant's shutdown and caused rolling blackouts.
According to Palestinian Ma'an news agency, the quantities of fuel include 500 thousand liters of fuel for the power plant, and an additional 100 liters of fuel for vehicles.
Fuel shortages in Egypt had prompted smugglers to demand prices higher than Gazans were ready to pay, according to Ma'an.
AFP reported that Egyptian authorities had upped their crackdown on the smuggling of fuel to the Strip, which relies on its own power plant for up to a third of energy in the coastal enclave. That power plant experiences regular blackouts as fuel deliveries to Gaza are reliant on smugglers and are restricted by an Israeli land and sea blockade.
Some in Gaza have placed blame for the fuel crisis on Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, where they claim the Palestinian Authority is withholding funds that could help Gaza purchase fuel.
Last week, energy authorities in Gaza announced that could only provide families with up to six hours of power at a time, according to Al Jazeera.
"Only half of the amount of fuel that entered in the previous weeks has been coming into Gaza for the past two weeks," the UN agency for humanitarian affairs, OCHA, said last Tuesday according to AFP.
The UN organization said that Israel's blockade on Gaza, which began in 2006 following the Hamas takeover of the Strip, forced smugglers and Gazans to develop a tunnel system through which to transfer fuel.
"Palestinians gradually developed tunnel infrastructure allowing the transfer of large quantities of fuel into Gaza, at a cheaper price, which resulted in an almost complete halt in the purchase from Israel," the OCHA said according to AFP.
Gaza is seeking to join an interstate energy grid that includes seven other Arab countries, but has said that the deal rests upon approval from the PLO.