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Gaza's Rafah cast into darkness as Egyptian power supply fails

April 8, 2016 2:45 P.M. (Updated: April 8, 2016 5:17 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The southern Gaza district of Rafah was left without power on Friday after the power supply from Egypt's electricity grid broke down, contributing to the coastal enclave's already dire energy crisis.

An official in Gaza's electricity distribution company told Ma'an a technical error had occurred in al-Arish in the northern Sinai, severing 20 megawatts of power to Rafah district.

He said the Egyptian authorities were repairing the fault.

The beleaguered Gaza Strip has faced an energy crisis for years. Even at full capacity, the Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids together with Gaza's sole power plant fail to cover the territory's energy needs.

Late last month the strip's 1.8 million residents were left almost entirely without power due to maintenance work on power lines from both Israel and Egypt and ongoing tax disputes on fuel for the enclave’s near-defunct power station.

Egypt, Israel, and the station provide only 230 MW of electricity, while Gaza-based think tank Pal-Think has estimated Gaza's needs to fall between 350 and 450 MW.

Gaza's power station has struggled to maintain its output due to fuel shortages and lack of funds -- both exacerbated by a dispute between Gaza's de facto rulers Hamas and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.

Israel's crippling blockade has also severely limited fuel imports into the coastal enclave, and the UN warned last year that the Gaza Strip could become uninhabitable for residents in just five years if current trends went on unchecked.
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