Last updated: 3 April, 2012

Hamas announces deal on Gaza electricity crisis

The Hamas government in Gaza said on Tuesday it had reached a deal with the Palestinian Authority on the supply of fuel to the coastal enclave, which has been hit by a severe power crisis.

The deal was confirmed by the rival Palestinian Authority government in Ramallah, though it said the deal was contingent on Gaza’s electricity company — under Hamas control — paying for the fuel deliveries.

Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu announced “a deal with our brothers in Ramallah on the delivery of fuel for the Gaza power station, under which the public petrol company will deliver 500,000 litres a day starting tomorrow.”

“The price of the delivery will be covered by the Gaza electricity company’s revenue,” he added.

“The electricity company has transferred two million shekels ($540,000, 400,000 euro) as a deposit for this agreement and we hope that its application as agreed with our brothers in Ramallah will begin to solve the electricity crisis in Gaza.”

The spokesman for prime minister Salam Fayyad’s government in the West Bank noted that the Palestinian Authority had already secured the delivery of more than 400,000 litres of diesel fuel from Israel for the power station last month.

“This is a temporary measure that will be carried out so long as the electricity company in Gaza continues to pay the petrol company the necessary funds,” Ghassan Khatib told AFP of the new agreement.

The deal was agreed after talks held in Cairo between Egyptian officials and representatives from the Hamas and Palestinian Authority governments.

Hamas foreign minister Mohammed Awad said the agreement would compliment an earlier deal between Hamas and Egypt to work to resolve Gaza’s long-standing electricity problems.

That agreement, announced by Hamas on February 23, called for three stages, the first of which would see Egyptian companies pumping fuel directly to Gaza under the terms of contracts signed with the firms.

The second part of the agreement called for the Islamic Development Bank to fund a project to upgrade and increase the capacity of Gaza’s sole power plant by 40 megawatts.

The third phase of the deal would connect Gaza’s electricity grid to Egypt’s and would convert the Palestinian territory’s power plant, which currently supplies around a third of the Strip’s electricity, from diesel to gas.

Gaza, with its population of nearly 1.6 million, has long suffered outages because of fuel shortages at the plant, which has a maximum capacity of 140 megawatts but for some years has only been able to generate around half of that when operational.

But in recent months, the situation has worsened because of a shortage of fuel both for the power plant and the generators residents were using to tide them over during blackouts lasting up to 18 hours a day.