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Fuel starved Gaza facing blackouts

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Maan News Agency

Ma’an’s reporters in Gaza, and Marian Houk in Jerusalem contributed to this article.

Gaza – Ma’an – The Gaza Strip will be blacked out within a few hours after Gaza’s only power plant shuts down due to Israel’s fuel cuts, Palestinian officials in Gaza said on Monday.

Mahmoud Al-Khizindar, the deputy president of the federation of gas stations in Gaza told Ma’an that no fuel has been delivered to Gaza since Palestinian fighters attacked the Nahal Oz fuel terminal, killing two Israeli workers last Wednesday. Israeli attacks in Gaza also killed seven Palestinians that day.

Al-Khizindar explained that just 45,000 liters were transferred to the power station on Sunday. This amount of fuel will last only a few more hours, he said.

Israeli officials say that the closure of the fuel terminal will continue.

Gaza has suffered an interrupted electricity supply over nine months as Israel has gradually reduced vital fuel supplies. Gaza plunged into darkness on 20 January after Israel cut supplies completely. Fuel deliveries were later reinstated but at a fraction of pre-blockade levels.

Rafiq Maliha, Director of Contracts at Gaza’s power plant, that no additional fuel has been delivered to the plant on Sunday or Monday.

On Sunday one tanker truck, containing 45,000 liters of industrial fuel, that had been stuck at Nahal Oz since before Wednesday’s attack. Over 300,000 liters are needed daily to keep the power plant running at the present, drastically-reduced level.

Mahila was hesitant to predict exactly when the plant would shut down. “I can’t give any time. We cannot plan here in Gaza,” he said.

Gisha, the Israeli human rights organization that led the effort to stop the fuel cuts, issued an appeal on Sunday to Israel’s Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, to order a restoration of all fuel supplies to Gaza.

“Israel has the right to protect itself against attacks on its civilians. But, just as international law forbids deliberately harming Israeli civilians working at Nahal Oz, so it [also] forbids deliberately harming civilians in Gaza, by depriving them of the fuel they need to produce electricity, travel, and run vital services.”

Currently, Gisha said, Gaza is experiencing rolling electricity blackouts that last approximately three hours a day. In the statement, Gisha’s Executive Director Sari Bashi noted that Israel does not permit fuel to enter Gaza from any point other than Nahal Oz.


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