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Egyptian power lines feeding southern Gaza back in operation

Oct. 4, 2016 10:30 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 5, 2016 3:33 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Gaza Strip’s electricity company announced on Tuesday evening that the Egyptian power lines feeding the southern part of the besieged enclave were back in operation after being disconnected due to damage.

An official at the electricity company said that the lines had been fixed, but would be disconnected temporarily on Wednesday in order for work to be done on another electricity circuit at a power station in al-Arish.

The official pointed out that the Egyptian power lines feed the southern Gaza Strip with 20 megawatts of electricity.

In addition to damages to Egyptian power lines, three of the Israeli power lines were disconnected due to damages on Monday.

The energy authority said in a statement at the time that Israeli power lines 9 and 8, as well as the line feeding the al-Shaaf area, were damaged and disconnected last week and still haven’t been fixed. Line 9 was reportedly disconnected at dawn on Tuesday, and the other two followed shortly afterwards.

It remained unclear as of Tuesday whether or not the Israeli lines had been repaired.

Gaza's electricity authority had added that electricity supply was suffering from power outages due to the closure of Karam Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing during the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah, through which fuel is imported into the blockaded Palestinian territory.

Israeli authorities announced Saturday evening that a three-day general closure would be imposed on all passage between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Israel, as well as between the occupied West Bank and Israel, during the holiday.

The Gaza energy authority added that it was trying its best to carry out maintenance to the damaged lines and use any fuel shipment that could enter Gaza Strip to provide as much power as possible for the longest amount of time, while noting that Gaza’s power station was running on only one generator.

The authority called on all involved parties to provide an uninterrupted fuel supply to Gaza’s electricity sector and to repair the damaged lines as soon as possible.

Prior to the border restrictions imposed as a result of the holiday, Kerem Shalom was closed to fuel imports last month after the crossing was breached by burglars, and as a result, Gaza’s sole power plant was knocked out of service for days.

Even at full capacity, Egyptian and Israeli electricity grids, together with Gaza's sole power plant, fail to cover the Gaza Strip’s energy needs and only provide energy to Gaza’s inhabitants for eight hours each day.

The power plant has not run at full capacity in years, with Israel's crippling blockade severely limiting fuel imports into the coastal enclave.

The enclave has experienced severe electricity shortages over the years, exacerbating already dire living conditions in the small Palestinian territory.

In addition to Gaza’s most recent electricity woes, delivery of cooking gas to the blockaded coastal enclave was also impeded last week due to complications with gas pipes running through Kerem Shalom.

Officials at the association of oil and gas companies in Gaza Strip said Wednesday that gas pipes at the crossing had been changed, installing new eight-inch pipes as an upgrade to the old four-inch pipes, but the quantity of gas being pumped through them had not been increased as promised by Israel.

Gas committee member Nour al-Din al-Khazindar told Ma’an at the time that Israel has previously agreed to allow 400 tons of gas to be pumped through the gas line at the crossing, but only 280 tons were being delivered, even after changing the pipes.

He added that there has been no gas had been pumped into Gaza Strip for five consecutive days due to the pipe maintenance.

The head of the gas committee Samir Hamada said that the Gaza Strip was facing a crisis due to the lack cooking gas, and the quantity being pumped did not meet the needs of the people in Gaza Strip.

He added that there were 40 gas stations in Gaza Strip, most of which were closed due to the lack of gas imports.
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