Israel responsible for Gaza energy crisis, Hamas says
The Hamas administration ruling the Gaza Strip on Thursday blamed Israel for the severe fuel and electricity shortage in the salient, and called on Egypt to help solve the problem.
"Israel is directly responsible for the crisis of energy shortage," Mohamed Awad, Hamas foreign minister in the Strip, told a news conference, dpa reported.
"The crisis must end soon and all the parties are called to help resolve it," Awad said.
Gaza has a population of 1.8 million. Before Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007, fuel to operate its power station and petrol for vehicles came from Israel.
After Israel imposed its blockade on the salient, Hamas brought in fuel from Egypt through smuggling tunnels under the border between the Strip and the Sinai peninsula.
Since December, Egypt has restricted fuel smuggling through the tunnels and demanded instead that Hamas allow the fuel to enter Gaza though crossing points between the Strip and Israel. Hamas has rejected the proposals.
A senior Hamas leader in Gaza accused both Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank of being behind Gaza's energy crisis.
"Israel and the Palestinian Authority are 100-per-cent responsible for the ongoing crisis and it is a conspiracy to topple the Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip," Mohammed al-Zahar said.
He called on Egypt "to help the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to resolve the crisis," adding, "we know that Egypt is passing through its own fuel crisis, but Egypt has to help us end our humanitarian crisis."