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Hamas asks Egypt to transfer Qatar fuel to Gaza

Sept. 11, 2012 3:34 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 12, 2012 9:37 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Fearing blackouts, the energy authority in the Gaza Strip called Tuesday on Egyptian authorities to allow fuel donated from Qatar to enter the coastal enclave.

The Gaza power station is on the verge of another shutdown amid a 50 percent shortage in fuel supplies, the authority said in a statement, as fuel donated by Qatar is being held up in Egypt.

"Egyptian authorities refuse to transfer the fuel from Qatar to the Gaza Strip," the authority said. "The Gaza power station needs urgent help as it is at half its capacity due to the lack of power."

Gaza had been plagued by a fuel crisis since mid-February, when Egypt cut off supplies via a tunnel network running under its border with the enclave.

In July, Qatar stepped in to ease the crisis and began sending monthly shipments of fuel via Egypt.

Egyptian officials said the fuel reserves would be more than doubled thanks to the fuel, which transits via Israel before it is delivered to Gaza in accordance with existing arrangements.

In recent weeks, however, Hamas has accused Egypt of holding up the transfers.

Last Tuesday the prime minister of the Hamas-run Gaza government, Ismail Haniyeh, called upon Egyptian President Muhammad Mursi to facilitate the entry of the fuel.

Hamas government officials have indicated in recent weeks that Gaza is relying increasingly on Qatari assistance to govern.

In August the minister of public works and housing, Yousif al-Mansi, said a Qatari delegation had agreed to start the first phase of a $224 million project during a visit to Gaza in June.
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