GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The only power plant supplying electricity to the Gaza Strip was knocked out of commission by Israeli shelling and will need at least a year to repair, deputy director of the energy authority in the Palestinian territory said Tuesday.
"Gaza's sole power plant has stopped working due to Israeli shelling last night, which damaged the steam generator and later hit the fuel tanks which set them on fire," Fathi al-Sheikh Khalil told AFP.
The power authority also said that the damage could take up to a year to fix, meaning that already severe power outages in the besieged coastal enclave could be worsened even further.
As a result of an eight-year Israeli siege on Gaza that limits the supply of fuel into the Strip, power is only allotted in eight-hour stretches, with frequent cuts.
An AFP reporter saw huge fires raging near the plant Tuesday morning, noting that fire department vehicles were still unable to reach the area.
The damage of the power plant exacerbated the heavy damage to civilian infrastructure in Gaza already inflicted during the 22 days of the Israeli offensive aimed at stamping out militant rocket fire and destroying attack tunnels.
Besides the power plant, Gaza also purchases electricity from Israel, but many of the supply lines have been badly damaged by the recent fighting, Sheikh Khalil said.
"Five out of 10 of the Israeli electricity lines into the Gaza Strip were also damaged because of Israeli shelling, and maintenance still cannot reach the areas and fix them," he explained.
Gaza has been forced into dependence on Israeli electricity as a result of the siege, which has crippled domestic production and repair capabilities.
AFP contributed to this report.