World Bulletin / News Desk
The embattled Gaza Strip's only functioning power plant will go offline indefinitely within the next 24 hours due to a crippling fuel shortage, a Palestinian official said on Tuesday.
"Tuesday is the power plant's last day of operating with the fuel that Qatar paid taxes on," Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil, deputy chairman of Gaza's energy authority, told Anadolu Agency.
The cash-strapped Gaza government, run by Hamas since 2007 after breaking with the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, has been unable to pay the taxes on fuel that it buys indirectly from Israel via Ramallah.
Israel sells fuel to Palestinians at 7 Israeli shekels (roughly $2) per liter, 3 shekels of which represent Israeli-imposed taxes. Energy-rich Qatar has covered the taxes on the last two fuel shipments to Gaza, following a weeks-long energy crisis in the coastal enclave late last year.
Khalil said that, thus far, there was no apparent solution to Gaza's looming energy "disaster," stressing that contacts remained ongoing between Gaza energy officials and the new Palestinian unity government.
Karam Abu Salem, Gaza's only functioning commercial crossing with Israel, was recently reopened after a five-day closure, except for the entry of limited amounts of fuel.
The closure had come as part of a raft of punitive measures against Palestinians taken by the self-proclaimed Jewish state following the disappearance earlier this month of three Jewish settlers from the West Bank.
Israel routinely closes the crossing, through which food and industrial supplies are brought into the Gaza Strip, which is home to some 1.8 million people.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Gaza-based Hamas of abducting the trio, although evidence to this effect has yet to be produced.Last Mod: 24 Haziran 2014, 16:11