Gaza receives fuel delivery after Egypt deal
Published Friday, March 23, 2012
About 450,000 liters of fuel were delivered to Gaza early on Friday through Israel's Kerem Shalom border crossing, Israeli and Palestinian sources said.
An Israeli military official confirmed that the Kerem Shalom terminal had opened at 7.30am local time, to allow the fuel to be transferred into the Hamas-run territory.
"450,000 liters of fuel are being delivered to Gaza today," said Guy Inbar, a spokesman for COGAT, the military division in charge of coordinating access to and from Gaza.
A source within Gaza's government said that 13 tankers, "each with a capacity of 45,000 liters," were at the border crossing.
The delivery was made just hours after Egyptian officials reached an agreement with Israel to permit the transfer of fuel to enable Gaza's sole power plant to function.
"Thanks to efforts by Egypt, in coordination with Hamas, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and due to a decision by president Mahmoud Abbas, an agreement was reached to resume the supply of diesel, via Israel, to Gaza's power plant through the Kerem Shalom terminal," a senior Egyptian official said overnight.
The agreement with Israel was to involve the delivery of 900,000 liters of fuel, he said. It was not immediately clear when the second delivery would be made.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the Islamist movement had been informed by Egypt about the impending delivery, and was "pursuing efforts to find a permanent solution to this crisis." He did not mention Israel's involvement.
Last week, Gaza's energy authority said it had paid Egypt US$2 million toward fuel for its crippled power station, but had yet to receive anything in return.
The power station, which supplies nearly one-third of Gaza's electricity, stopped generating power on March 10, for the third time in four weeks, causing power cuts of up to 18 hours per day, according to the UN humanitarian agency, OCHA.
"Since March 10, the majority of the Gaza population has been experiencing power cuts of up to 18 hours per day after the Gaza power plant was forced to shut down due to a lack of fuel," OCHA said in its weekly report.
"These power cuts have severe humanitarian consequences on Palestinian households. The fuel and electricity shortages also disrupt the delivery of public services, including hospitals and water and waste water treatment plants."
Gaza's economy remains crippled by a continued siege by Israel, which controls access to the area and prevents many everyday goods from being imported.