Israel to resume Gaza fuel shipments

UN, NGOs: lack of fuel causing severe humanitarian crisis; Oxfam urges Israel to resume shipments.

gaza fuel 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
gaza fuel 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The supply of fuel to Gaza is likely to be resumed on Monday, sources in the Defense Ministry told The Jerusalem Post Sunday. Otherwise, a World Health Organization official said, Gaza City's main Shifa Hospital would be left in the dark within a day. Defense Minister Ehud Barak stopped the transfer of fuel over the weekend in response to the barrage of Gazan rockets that killed Kibbutz Kfar Aza resident Jimmy Kedoshim, 48, Friday evening. But defense officials plan to revisit the decision on Monday and are likely to agree to resume fuel shipments. At 5 p.m. on Saturday, the Gaza power plant, which is powered by fuel from Israel shut down. It supplies 28 percent of Gaza's electricity. Israel provides 62% of the Gaza Strip's electricity, while 8% comes from Egypt. The United Nations and nongovernmental groups said on Saturday and Sunday that the lack of fuel was causing a severe humanitarian crisis. Oxfam International on Sunday called on Israel to immediately send fuel over the border. "Oxfam calls on all parties to guarantee the safety of operations at the Nahal Oz fuel crossing so electricity generation essential for vital health and water services can be immediately resumed in Gaza," said Oxfam International director Jeremy Hobbs. Shadi Yassin, an IDF spokesman, said Israel was unable to provide the full amount last week because Palestinians fired mortars at the Gaza fuel depot at the Nahal Oz crossing. But Mujahid Salame, head of the Palestinian Authority's Petrol Authority in the West Bank, said the fuel should have been enough to keep the power plant going until Monday evening. Salame is hostile to Hamas but coordinates the entry of fuel into the Gaza Strip. The 560-bed Shifa Hospital had fuel to operate its generators for only one more day, said Mahmoud Daher, the Gaza director for the World Health Organization. The pediatric hospital in Gaza and Um Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis were also at a critical point, as was the central pharmacy in which vaccines and other perishable supplies were stored, Daher said. In Gaza City on Sunday, the lack of electricity caused a host of problem including a lack of running water and elevator services. Bakeries were forced to shut down. Hamas is widely believed to be hoarding fuel for commercial vehicles, ensuring its loyalists get supplies first. Ziad Zaza, a member of the Hamas government in Gaza, said fuel would be distributed to bus companies to transport private individuals and students. He did not say where the government obtained the fuel. "This is another example of Hamas orchestrating an artificial crisis," said government spokesman David Baker in Jerusalem. Because elevators weren't working, Mona Bukhari stayed inside her apartment on the sixth floor of a Gaza City building. The 47-year-old housewife said she had a weak heart and couldn't comfortably walk up stairs. She sent her children to fill bottles from a well across the road. Salim Murtaja, 44, said he passed seven shuttered bakeries while trying to find bread on Sunday. About 50 of 75 bakeries in Gaza closed because they had no fuel for their ovens, officials said. Kanan Obeid, a senior Gaza power plant official, said Israel provided about 2 million liters of diesel fuel last week, just short of what they needed. They ran out of fuel on Saturday afternoon, he said. AP contributed to this report.