World Bulletin/News Desk
Qatar has agreed to finance diesel purchases from Israel to help ease the electricity crisis in the Gaza Strip, an energy official confirmed on Sunday.
"The Gaza government has tabled the proposal as a way out of the current crisis and the Qatari government has immediately agreed to finance the diesel purchases," Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, head of the Gaza Energy Authority, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.
Under the proposed deal, Qatar will foot the bill for diesel purchases from Israel through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
"UNRWA has forwarded the proposal to Israel but we have not received any response yet," Khalil said.
The impoverished Palestinian coastal enclave – home to nearly 1.7 million people - has been suffering an acute electricity crisis for years after Israeli warplanes bombed the Gaza Strip's main power station in 2006.
The 65-megawatt power plant, which supplies about one third of Gaza's total electricity needs, continues to suffer repeated shutdowns because of the lack of fuel.
The plant requires 650,000 liters of diesel fuel for its daily operations.
But providing the necessary fuel has become a tall order in light of an Egyptian army crackdown – launched in the wake of elected president Mohamed Morsi's July 3 ouster by the military – that has led to the closure of most Egypt-Gaza smuggling tunnels.
Electricity outages usually last for eight hours every day, but the Egyptian crackdown on the border tunnels made it even worse with daily power outages lasting for more than 12 hours.
If UNRWA was able to buy the necessary amounts of fuel for the power plant, Khalil said, power outages would return to the usual rate of eight hours a day.
"We remain in contact with all international organizations to reach a solution to end the suffering of the people of Gaza," he said.Last Mod: 17 Kasım 2013, 16:59