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Israel to allow shipment of diesel, cooking gas into Gaza Strip

March 30, 2017 1:05 P.M. (Updated: March 30, 2017 6:59 P.M.)
(File)
GAZA (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities decided on Thursday to open the Karam Abu Salam (Kerem Shalom) crossing on Friday between Israel and the Gaza Strip to allow fuel into the besieged coastal enclave.

Director General of the Public Administration of the Crossing Points and Borders Committee in Gaza Nathmi Mahana told Ma’an that Israel had agreed to open the crossing “exceptionally” on Friday to allow a regulated amount of diesel into the besieged coastal enclave, to be used by the Gaza Electricity Company.

Mahana added that Israeli authorities had also agreed to allow cooking gas in during the opening.

It remained unclear how much diesel and cooking gas would be allowed into Gaza during Friday’s opening.

The cooking gas crisis in Gaza has been caused by the lack of gas being pumped into Gaza, 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 earlier this month, and 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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