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PA, Hamas reach fuel deal

April 3, 2012 5:56 P.M. (Updated: April 5, 2012 10:40 A.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Fuel imports from Israel to Gaza will begin Wednesday following an agreement between the Palestinian governments in Ramallah and Gaza City, officials said Tuesday.

Gaza's power authority has transferred 2 million shekels ($537,000) to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority to pay for the fuel, said Taher al-Nunu, a spokesman for the Hamas-led government in Gaza.

From Wednesday, 500,000 liters of fuel will be transferred daily to Gaza's power plant via the Kerem Shalom crossing on Israel's border, al-Nunu said.

"We hope the officials in Ramallah will implement the agreement on time to end the electricity crisis," he added.

PA spokesman Ghassan al-Khatib confirmed the deal. He said the Ramallah government had received payment from the power authority in Gaza and that arrangements were underway to send 415,000 liters of fuel to the enclave.

In a statement, al-Khatib said the fuel deliveries would continue if the Gaza power authority continued to send payment.

Palestinian officials met in Cairo last week and agreed a deal to buy gas from Egypt to run Gaza's sole power plant. It was not clear when the transfer will begin as it requires a new network of pipelines and the plant will need to be converted to run on gas.

Gaza's power plant has shut down four times since February amid critical fuel shortages after Egypt unexpectedly cut supplies via a network of underground tunnels. Residents have faced power outages of up to 18 hours a day.

Egypt, which is also experiencing fuel shortages, urged Hamas to import fuel across its border with Israel.

Hamas initially refused, citing concerns that Israel would then have the power to block supplies.

On March 23, an emergency supply of fuel was delivered to Gaza from Israel but it ran out within 48 hours.

The International Committee of the Red Cross on Tuesday donated 150,000 liters of fuel to operate generators at hospitals in Gaza, a health ministry spokesman said.

Ashraf al-Qedra said hospitals had been experiencing daily power cuts of between eight and 12 hours and thanked the Red Cross for its support.

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