Egypt delivers fuel to ease Gaza electricity crisis
THOMAS COEX (AFP)
Egypt began on Wednesday to deliver a million liters of fuel to Gaza, a Palestinian official said, in an attempt to ease the Palestinian enclave's desperate electricity crisis.
The fuel, trucked in through the Rafah border between Egypt and Gaza, will be routed to the territory's only power station -- closed since April due to fuel shortages.
Fuel trucks will be permitted to enter the Strip through Rafah even if it remains closed to other traffic, an official told the Safa news agency. Both Israel and Egypt have maintained a blockade over the Gaza Strip since 2007, following Islamist Hamas' victory in elections.
Israel slashed its electricity supply to the Strip by 40%, from 120 to just 112 megawatts per day, in response to a request made by the Palestinian Authority which is angry that Hamas refuses to foot the bill for the utility.
The move has left Gazans without electricity for all but two to four hours per day and has exacerbated existing sewage and water woes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sought to downplay Israel's role in the crisis, however, calling it an "internal matter" between the rival Palestinian factions.
In April, the Palestinian Authority informed Israel that it will immediately cease paying for electricity supplies to the Gaza Strip. Israel supplies the coastal enclave with about 30% of its electricity at a cost of around 40 million shekels per month (around US$10 million), which it deducts from the taxes of the Palestinian Authority.
In the absence of funding from the Palestinian Authority, money will need to come from the international community or private donors.
Gaza's sole electricity plant frequently runs out of fuel for its generators and rations power supplies. Human rights organizations have warned that constant fuel shortages and insufficient infrastructure have brought about a humanitarian crisis for Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled territory.
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