Israel transfers fuel to Gaza to alleviate severe power shortage
Israel transferred industrial diesel to the Gaza Strip Friday, to operate the salient's sole power station which has been immobile for seven weeks, causing a sever energy crisis in the enclave, dpa reported.
The transfer of the hundreds of thousands of litres of fuel got underway in the morning, Nazmi Muhana, the director of crossings authority in the West Bank, told reporters.
Ahmed Abu al-Amrin, an official of the Hamas administration which runs the Gaza Strip, said Israel agreed to transfer 450,000 litres. However, Egypt has said 900,000 litres will be delivered. The Gaza Strip's industrial and private needs require 1 million litires of fuel per day.
Hamas Gaza Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Friday that the transfer of fuel to the Strip was the "result of fruitful efforts and contacts of Hamas with Egypt."
"Our efforts were going on around the clock and will continue until the crisis is completely resolved," he said in a statement.
After Israel imposed its blockade on the salient, Hamas. which seized control by force in 2007, brought in - and imposed a tax on 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, as per a three-way agreement between Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. Hamas, not wanting to lose the revenue from the smuggling tunnels, rejected the proposals.
Wealthier Gaza residents were able to use private generators, supplied with fuel bought on the black market. But the majority of the population had to suffer lengthy power cuts, which led to increased criticism against the Hamas administration in the Strip.
To deflect the criticism, the Islamist movement tried to blame Israel and the Palestinian Authority for the 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," senior Hamas official Mohammed al-Zahar said Thursday.
Hamas has organized protests on Friday against the "conspiracy."