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Fuel enters Gaza as Kerem Shalom crossing re-opened

March 16, 2014 10:43 A.M. (Updated: March 17, 2014 4:34 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Deliveries of fuel to the Gaza Strip resumed on Sunday morning as Israeli authorities allowed the Kerem Shalom (Kerem Abu Salem) crossing to re-open, Palestinian crossing officials said.

The decision comes only a day after the besieged coastal enclave's sole power plant was forced to shut down after Israel closed the border crossing, cutting off its supplies of fuel and further restricting the Gaza Strip's already limited power supply.

General director of the border crossing Nazmi Muhanna told Ma'an that Israeli authorities had informed him on Saturday evening that they had decided to resume shipments of fuel to the power plant on Sunday morning.

Israeli officials at the southern Gaza Strip crossing refused to allow any other commodities to enter, he added.

The Gaza power plant, which was already severely low on fuel, announced on Saturday that it would cut the electricity supply to the Strip's 1.7 million residents from twelve hours a day to six until fuel run out.

Israeli authorities closed the Kerem Shalom crossing on Thursday due to the outbreak of fighting between militant groups and Israeli forces, which involved rocket fire into Israel as well as air strikes on Gaza before a ceasefire was re-activated.

Lack of diesel fuel is a result of the tightening of a 7-year-long blockade imposed on the territory by Israel with Egyptian support.

Until July of this year, tunnels connecting Gaza to Egypt provided a vital lifeline for the territory amidst the otherwise crippling Israeli blockade. The blockade has been in place since 2006, and it has limited imports and exports and led to a major economic decline and wide-reaching humanitarian crisis.

In the last year, however, the situation had greatly improved, as the tunnels to Egypt witnessed a brisk trade following the Egyptian Revolution. Since the coup against Egyptian president Morsi in July, however, Egypt has strictly enforced the blockade and targeted the tunnels.

Gaza Strip energy officials blame Egypt for destroying these tunnels while maintaining the larger economic blockade, along with Israel.
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