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Technical fault in electricity grid from Egypt leaves Rafah in dark

July 5, 2015 10:57 A.M. (Updated: July 5, 2015 6:11 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip was left in darkness Saturday evening after the main Egyptian grid that supplies the city with electricity malfunctioned.

The Gaza Electricity Disribution Corporation (GEDCo) said in a statement that the power cut affected electricity distribution across the entire Gaza Strip, as the company had to provide Rafah with electricity from other grids.

The company said that its officials as well as those from the Palestinian power authority were contacting the Egyptian electricity company to fix the problem.

Gaza currently receives electricity from the Egyptian electricity grid, the Israeli electric company and from a power station inside Gaza.

However, these supply lines fall far short of the Gazan population's needs. While they provide 230 MW of electricity, Pal-Think, a Gaza-based think tank, has estimated that the Gazan people require 350 to 450 MW.

In July last year, Egypt, which feeds electricity to the Gazan side of Rafah and to part of Khan Younis, agreed to increase its supply from 27 to 32 MW.

However, relations have been strained between the Egyptian government and Hamas, which Egypt accuses of aiding anti-government militants in the northern Sinai region.

Egypt has helped Israel maintain a severe blockade of the Gaza Strip for the last eight years that has crippled the coastal enclave's economy by limiting imports, exports, and movement of people.

Although the power plant inside Gaza has a potential output of 140 MW it has rarely been unable to produce that much, not only due to funding difficulties, but also due to Israeli restrictions on fuel imports.

Last summer the plant was also targeted during the 50-day Israeli offensive on Gaza, completely knocking it out of commission. The Gaza power authority said at the time that the damages from the attack could take up to a year to fix completely.

The plant faced closure again in June, this time blaming the Palestinian petroleum authority in Ramallah for reducing the plant's fuel share.

Many individual homes in Gaza have their own generators, and households can purchase extremely expensive fuel that comes into Gaza for private consumption.
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