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Fuel shortage sees Gaza go dark

Aug. 7, 2010 9:09 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 8, 2010 9:40 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Hours after officials at the Gaza Power Plant warned of the site's immanent shut down on Saturday, the Gaza Strip went black.

Power plant officials said a fuel shortage caused the shut-down, and blamed a refusal of the Palestinian Authority to ship sufficient fuel into the coastal enclave for the latest crisis.

The third time since January that the plant has been forced to close due to fuel shortage, earlier blackouts were blamed on a rocky transfer of responsibility for fuel supply to Gaza from the EU to the Palestinian Authority.

The Gaza Power Authority said in a statement that it held Ramallah's finance ministry accountable, because “the government in Ramallah has not paid for industrial diesel, as agreed with the delegation of independent figures who visited Gaza recently.”

Fuel for the plant has been an ongoing issue between the governments, with Ramallah officials insisting that the plant collect a larger portion of its bills from Gaza residents, and transfer the cash to the PA to support fuel payments.

Gaza officials cited near 50 percent unemployment figures and the PA plan to deduct bills from Civil Servant salaries as factors making it near impossible to collect sufficient payments to keep the plant in fuel.

Despite what GPA officials called their best efforts to collect and send payments to the PA, the fuel supply remained insufficient.

"There must be more pressure on the Ramallah-based finance ministry to avoid punishing the Gaza Strip population," a statement read, adding that the GPA held PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad "completely responsible" for the “disastrous electricity situation” in Gaza.

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