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Israel allows fuel into besieged Gaza Strip via Kerem Shalom crossing

March 10, 2017 11:47 A.M. (Updated: March 14, 2017 5:36 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities opened the Karam Abu Salam (Kerem Shalom) crossing on Friday between Israel and the Gaza Strip to allow fuels into the besieged coastal enclave.

Member of the Gaza gas committee Nour al-Din al-Khazandar told Ma’an that the crossing was opened early Friday morning, and that some 160 tons of cooking gas, 500,000 liters of diesel for the Gaza electricity company and 200,000 liters of diesel for transport use were allowed in.

The cooking gas crisis in Gaza has been caused by the lack of gas being pumped into Gaza, though, with officials telling Ma’an that Gaza needs some 450 tons of cooking gas daily, but only received 200 tons through Kerem Shalom.

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

The crossing was also opened in January 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 by 2020, pointing to the devastation of war and nearly a decade of Israel's blockade.

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