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Gaza protests fuel crisis at Rafah border

March 17, 2012 9:43 P.M. (Updated: March 18, 2012 9:56 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) -- Dozens of Palestinians gathered at the Rafah crossing into Egypt on Saturday, to protest continuing fuel shortages in the Gaza Strip.

Protesters, including several village heads, carried banners saying: "Gaza without electricity: Until when?" and "Bring fuel to hospitals."

The demonstration called for the electricity company in Gaza to connect with Egyptian power infrastructure, to bring an end to the widespread power outages that have beset the Gaza Strip over the past month.

The Gaza Strip has faced up to 18-hour blackouts per day since Egypt cut fuel supplies through an underground tunnel network, and officials are negotiating an emergency route to stave the power crisis.

Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouq said last Thursday authorities had found a temporary solution for the crisis, in which Egypt will sell 1 million liters of fuel via Israeli-controlled crossing Kerem Shalom within a week.

Gaza's sole power station shut down two days later for the third time in the past month.

Prime Minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh said on Tuesday Egypt had increased the amounts of electricity it was allowing to enter Gaza to 27 megawatts. During the next month and a half, this amount will increase again, he added.

However the blockaded coastal strip was still contending with six-hours of electricity per day on Saturday, staggered across different regions, a Ma'an correspondent said.

Officials have warned that the ongoing crisis threatens hospitals' ability to treat patients, and business leaders say their operations are under threat.
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