Sunday, March 30, 2014

Gaza’s only power plant shuts down over lack of fuel

Gaza’s only power plant ‘shuts down over lack of fuel’

Saturday, 15 March 2014

The only power plant in the besieged Gaza Strip was shut down on Saturday due to a lack of fuel from Israel, which closed a goods crossing after militant rocket attacks, the energy authority said.

“The plant has completely ceased to function due to a lack of fuel caused by (Israel's) closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing,” said Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy director of the energy authority in the Palestinian territory ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon had ordered on Thursday the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza and the Erez pedestrian crossing “until further security assessments.”

In response, the energy authority cut the plant's operation from only 12 hours a day to six until the fuel ran out.

The facility, which supplies some 30 percent of Gaza's electricity needs, has been forced to shut down several times, most recently in December.

The power plant is one of the main sources of electricity for Gaza's 1.8 million people and without it, daily blackouts of around 12 hours are expected. Electricity is also received directly from Israel and Egypt.

Gaza lacks much basic civil infrastructure and lives under an Egyptian-Israeli blockade meant to cut off arms flows but which also curbs imports of fuel and building supplies.

*Photo courtesy of REUTERS

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