'Hamas stole 60,000 liters of Gaza fuel'

PA gas agency head confirms eyewitness account; Egypt finds five tunnels used to pump fuel to Strip.

nahal oz tanker 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
nahal oz tanker 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
The head of the Palestinian Authority's gas agency confirmed Tuesday that Hamas gunmen had raided the Palestinian side of the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, stealing at least 60,000 liters of fuel meant for the Gaza power station in order to fill their own vehicles. The Jerusalem Post reported Sunday that on at least four occasions over the past few weeks, Hamas militiamen confiscated trucks loaded with fuel as they were on their way from Nahal Oz to the city. Eyewitnesses said that the fuel supplies were taken to Hamas-controlled security installations throughout the city. Gas agency head Mojahed Salam told Israel Radio that his workers were threatened at gunpoint and that he instructed them to obey the orders of the armed men so they wouldn't be harmed. "They took control of the fuel and fired toward the terminal in order to torpedo the flow of fuel to the Strip and to pressure Egypt into reopening the Rafah border crossing," said Salam. Also Tuesday, an Egyptian security official said that Egyptian border guards discovered five new underground smuggling tunnels north of the Rafah border crossing. The official said two tunnels were used to pump fuel to the Gaza Strip due to the severe energy shortages. One of the tunnels was found in a kitchen with a pump connected to a hose running through it. The tunnels were found early on Monday, added the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Some 50 jerry cans of fuel and another pump were found in the second tunnel which opened into an olive orchard 150 meters from the border. Meanwhile, under heavy security, Israel transferred a large amount of wheat to the Gaza Strip. Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report