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Israel allows fuel into besieged Gaza Strip via Kerem Shalom crossing

Feb. 24, 2017 7:11 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 27, 2017 8:31 P.M.)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities opened the Karam Abu Salam (Kerem Shalom) crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip on Friday to allow the entry of fuel into the besieged enclave.

Head of the gas committee in Gaza Samir Hamada told Ma’an that Israeli authorities had decided to open the crossing for the entry of cooking gas and fuel into the territory.

He said that 200,000 liters of gasoline, and 120 tons of cooking gas would be pumped to companies operating in Gaza, while 400,000 liters of diesel fuel would be allocated to Gaza’s electricity company.

Hamada noted that the cooking gas crisis in Gaza was caused by the lack of gas being pumped into Gaza, adding that authorities had implemented a new pump which is larger and will be able to transfer 400 tons of cooking gas on a daily basis.

He added that Gaza needs some 450 tons of cooking gas daily, but only received 200 tons through the Kerem Shalom crossing.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s electricity company said that there was confusion in the electricity distribution schedule owing to the lack of electricity supply, adding that the company has only been able to provide 195 megawatts of electricity daily, while Gaza needs 600 megawatts to function normally.

The Gaza Strip has now only been receiving electricity for six hours a day, according to the company.

Kerem Shalom was opened last week to allow diesel into the small coastal territory.

The crossing was also opened last month for the entry of gas and diesel into Gaza, amidst heightening tensions over a dire electricity crisis that left the majority of the Gaza Strip with only three hours of power a day in between 12-hour blackouts for more than a week in January, with recent Qatari aid helping to bring back the Palestinian territory to its usual schedule of eight hours of electricity followed by eight hours without.

The besieged Gaza Strip has been suffering for years from a serious power crisis, which intensifies in the winter when families have to make do with only a few hours of power a day.

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, as the usual electricity schedule alternates eight hours of power followed by eight hours without.

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's severe electricity shortages over the years have exacerbated the already dire living conditions in the small Palestinian territory.

War has also taken its toll, and during Israel's 50-day offensive on Gaza in 2014, the power plant was targeted, completely knocking it out of commission.

The UN has warned that the Gaza Strip would become uninhabitable for residents by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and nearly a decade of Israel's blockade.
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