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Gaza power plant offline as Egypt blocks Qatar fuel

June 6, 2012 7:11 P.M. (Updated: June 11, 2012 7:04 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The power authority in the Gaza Strip said Wednesday that the enclave's sole power plant had stopped functioning due to delays on the Egyptian border preventing the entry of fuel.

Truckloads of Qatari fuel -- some 150,000 liters -- arrived in El-Arish, Egypt on Tuesday but they have not been able to cross an Egyptian goods terminal en route to the Gaza Strip.

Officials in the Hamas-run power authority say the fuel is being delayed at the border even though it was supposed to arrive Sunday. They suspect that the delays are a form of pressure.

"Since the Qatari fuel has not entered, and in light of not having the necessary fuel to maintain the sole power plant in Gaza, the power plant stopped working," the authority said in a statement.

The authority said it held Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah responsible for the delays. It said the PA was behind Egypt's refusal to equip the Rafah crossing to transfer fuel, leaving only a crossing controlled by Israel able to receive the fuel.

The authority said officials discussing reconciliation should make the electricity issue in Gaza a priority and resolve it immediately.

Agence France-Presse reported Sunday that Israel agreed last month to allow the shipment to enter through its territory. But Egypt has not authorized the shipment, officials in Gaza say.

Gaza has been plagued with intermittent blackouts since February when Egypt stopped allowing Hamas authorities to receive fuel via a tunnel network under Gaza's southern border.

Hamas has argued that it has a right to import fuel directly, but Egypt was angered that it was securing cheap, illicit fuel, rather than purchasing supplies at cost like other countries.
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