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Israel allows entry of diesel into Gaza via Kerem Shalom crossing

Feb. 17, 2017 10:52 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 19, 2017 5:56 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities opened the Karam Abu Salam (Kerem Shalom) crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Friday to allow diesel into the besieged coastal enclave.

A member of the Gaza Union of Gas Station Owners, Nour al-Din al-Khazandar, told Ma’an that 500 thousand liters of diesel were expected to be allowed into Gaza.

Gaza’s power authority said in a statement Thursday that its main electricity plant had been operating with only two generators, causing “confusion in the schedule of electricity distribution,” especially amid high demand of electricity supply due to cold weather.

The authority also highlighted that there was a “stall” on the entry of Turkish fuel aid to Gaza.

The crossing was opened last month for the entry of gas and diesel into Gaza, amidst heightening tensions over a dire electricity crisis that left the majority of the Gaza Strip with only three hours of power a day in between 12-hour blackouts for more than a week in January, with recent Qatari aid helping to bring back the Palestinian territory to its usual schedule of eight hours of electricity followed by eight hours without.

The besieged Gaza Strip has been suffering for years from a serious power crisis, which intensifies in the winter when families have to make do with only a few hours of power a day.

Even at full capacity, Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids, together with Gaza's sole power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy needs, as the usual electricity schedule alternates eight hours of power followed by eight hours without.

The power plant has not run at full capacity in years, with Israel's crippling blockade severely limiting fuel imports into the coastal enclave.

The enclave's severe electricity shortages over the years have exacerbated the already dire living conditions in the small Palestinian territory.

War has also taken its toll, and during Israel's 50-day offensive on Gaza in 2014, the power plant was targeted, completely knocking it out of commission.

The UN has warned that the Gaza Strip would become uninhabitable for residents by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and nearly a decade of Israel's blockade.

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