Last updated: 7 June, 2012

Gaza power plant shuts down as fuel crisis worsens

The first shipment of fuel from Qatar arrived in the Gaza Strip on Thursday, a border crossing official told AFP, after repeated delays in its delivery to the power-starved Palestinian territory.

“Five trucks carrying 155,000 litres (41,000 gallons) of industrial fuel arrived on the Palestinian side of the Karam Abu Salim crossing, and is on its way to the Gaza electricity plant,” Raed Futuh told AFP.

The Israeli army confirmed the fuel delivery in a statement, adding that the fuel supplies will continue to be delivered for about three months.

The defence ministry “agreed to a request from the Egyptian government to transfer diesel fuel to the Gaza Strip, at a rate of around 30 million litres (about 10-15 containers daily),” the army statement added.

Gaza is in the grip of the worst power crisis in living memory, and its sole electricity plant has been forced to shut down repeatedly because of a lack of fuel, including this week, after the Qatari shipment was delayed once again.

The plant was expected to resume operations soon, with the rest of the 30-million-litre shipment scheduled for delivery in coming days, after at least four delays in the past three weeks.

The shipments are being transported via Egypt to Israel and onto Gaza through the Karam Abu Salim crossing, known as Kerem Shalom in Israel.

Last month, Israel gave the green light for the fuel to be transferred through its territory after receiving a request from Egypt, an Israeli security official said.

The power crisis was sparked by a fall in supplies of fuel smuggled in from Egypt, forcing the closure of the coastal territory’s sole power plant and causing power cuts of up to 18 hours a day.

The situation was eased somewhat in April after a deal between Gaza’s Hamas government and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which agreed to supply Gaza with fuel purchased from Israel.