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Egypt seizes fuel en route to Gaza

Oct. 10, 2012 6:04 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 12, 2012 9:58 A.M.)
EL-ARISH, Egypt (Ma'an) -- Police in north Sinai on Wednesday detained two suspected smugglers and seized 3,000 liters of fuel destined for the Gaza Strip, Egyptian security officials said.

Officers arrested two men and confiscated their truck carrying 29 barrels of fuel near Bir el-Abd. The men told police they were planning to smuggle the fuel into the Gaza Strip through underground tunnels, security officials told Ma'an.

In Gaza, benzene smuggled from Egypt has eased the fuel crisis and reduced petrol queues at gas stations, said Mohammad al-Abadleh, a board member of the council of gas company owners.

Israel allowed the import of domestic-use gas to resume on Tuesday, after closing the Kerem Shalom crossing for Jewish holidays, he said.

Al-Abadleh said talks were being held with Egypt to ease security restrictions and increase the amount of fuel imported through the Rafah border crossing.

He told Ma'an that Gaza's fuel crisis would be resolved if Israel allowed fuel donated by Qatar to enter the enclave. Israel has held up the Qatari fuel for 45 days, causing electricity outages due to shortages at the sole power generator in Gaza.

In July, Qatar began sending monthly shipments of fuel via Egypt to ease a crisis in Gaza, which transits via Israel in accordance with existing arrangements.

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