Power plant shutdown to create humanitarian crisis in Gaza

Gaza's power plant stopped working on Friday after consuming the last drop of fuel.

Power plant shutdown to create humanitarian crisis in Gaza

The shutdown of Gaza's sole power plant due to fuel shortage is raising worries of a humanitarian catastrophe across the Palestinian enclave.

"Lack of fuel will cause a humanitarian and economic catastrophe in Gaza," Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, the deputy chairman of Gaza's energy authority, told Anadolu Agency.

Gaza's power plant stopped working on Friday after consuming the last drop of fuel.

"The four generators of the station have totally stopped working," Khalil said.

The energy authority warned that the breakdown of the power station "will affect all aspects of life in Gaza such as potable water and treatment of sewage wastes."

"It will also impact hospitals and medical clinics," the authority warned.

The power station supplies about a third of Gaza's electricity needs.

The power station needs 650,000 liters of diesel for daily operations.

But providing the necessary fuel has become a far-fetched dream for the Hamas government as fuel used to be smuggled from Egypt through underground tunnels along borders.

But the tunnels have almost come to a standstill following an army crackdown following the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi.

Tunnel owners say that around 400,000 liters of diesel used to enter Gaza via underground tunnels every day.

Acute crisis

Gazan officials blame the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority for escalating the fuel crisis in the seaside strip.

"Taxes imposed by the Palestinian Authority on fuel imports from Israel make it difficult for us to buy this fuel for operating the power plant," Ahmed Abu al-Omrin, head of the energy authority's information center, said.

Gaza has been suffering an acute electricity problem for almost a decade since Israeli warplanes bombed the strip's main power station in 2006.

Electricity outages used to last for eight hours every day.

The suspension of the smuggling operations via tunnels has made the situation even worse. Outages now last for 12 hours every day.

Last week, Israel allowed 400,000 liters of diesel into Gaza through the Karam Abu Salem crossing to operate Gaza's power station.

Small amounts of the Israeli fuel are allowed into Gaza every day, but most of these amounts go to the private and commercial sectors.

The one liter of Israeli fuel sells for 7 shekels, whereas the Egyptian fuel is sold for only 3 shekels only (around $1).

Abu al-Omrin called on Egyptian authorities to allow fuel deliveries via underground tunnels or let fuel from Qatar into the strip.

"There is no fuel for the power station," he complained.

Egypt had suspended the entry of Qatari fuel to Gaza following the killing of 16 Egyptian border guards in Sinai last year.

Qatar had sent diesel aid to Gaza to the amount of 25,000 tons, an enough amount to operate Gaza's power station for two months.

Gaza gets 120 megawatts of electricity from Israel and buys 28 megawatts from Egypt, the Gaza energy authority says.

The local power station generates 65 megawatts of electricity, depending on the fuel availability.

There used to be a 50 percent deficit in electricity generation in Gaza, which needs 400 megawatts of electricity to meet its needs.

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Last Mod: 04 Kasım 2013, 12:33
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